IT training for new arrivals gets underway

Published Jan 27, 2017

Three months of unrelenting hard work await the 26 newcomers with academic backgrounds who will be given intensive training to become IT developers. As the course got underway at KTH, the participants had high expectations.

‘How many of you have worked with Linux?’ A forest of hands shoots into the air. In just three months, this class of new arrivals will become fully-fledged Java software developers.

Training which normally takes several years has been condensed into just three months by KTH. The labour market is crying out for IT skills but Sweden cannot educate enough people to meet its needs.

It is the first day of the course ‘Software Development Academy’, that will rapidly produce IT developers, and Farzad Golchin from the recruitment company Novare Potential addresses the room:

“Now it's up to you. You are a select group, you have an extremely high learning capacity, but you will have to work hard! Welcome to the family,” he says.

In a newly-equipped room at KTH are 26 excited people, who have been chosen from 340 applicants because they have the right background, have scored highly in logic tests and who are considered to be highly motivated to succeed. The atmosphere is good, with some joking gently in English and others laughing, especially when the course leaders at the introduction have some initial problems - with the computers.

According to Mattias Wiggberg, project manager at the School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), the Swedish language and, above all a lack of contacts are major obstacles when newcomers want to enter the Swedish labour market.

“Our view is that the students will pick up the language over time. And the IT industry is a sector where the working language is in English, which all of our students have already mastered. They do not need more barriers to getting into work; removing the requirement for fluency in Swedish will save them many years,” he says.

Many nationalities

Listening to the participants as they introduce themselves is a humbling experience. Everyone is given a minute to talk about their background, their hopes for a career and what they do in their spare time. It soon becomes clear that altogether the students sitting in this room have many years’ experience of extensive university studies. A total of nine nationalities are represented – though most participants come from Syria.

Virtually everyone already has various degrees in IT. One woman from Iran is a nuclear scientist, and many have worked for well-known companies. Two chess players, one of whom is a professional, find each other. Several participants appreciate being offered this chance. Now they want to brush off old skills, fill knowledge gaps and build a future as a software developer - and get into the Swedish job market.

“It feels great. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. It's really nice to be back in a professional context - I'll be very eager to hunt for a job after this,” says Shubha Rao, from India.

The initiative comes from KTH, which has devised the course contents, and Novare Potential, which has selected the participants and will also connect them with businesses. The company is working in parallel with the training to match the newcomers to the job market.

“There is a gap between the potential of those who come here and how we take advantage of their knowledge,” says Farzad Golchin from Novare.

Expectant participants

After the course, the participants will be hired as consultants by different companies, but employed by Novare Potential in their first year. The idea then is for them to be directly employed at their consulting assignments. In a lecture room facing the roof tops, Ali Kamran from Pakistan has just sat down at his computer. He is excited.

“I have a Master's degree in Computer Science, but I’ve also worked in technical support and repaired computers in my free time. So this is a kind of a whole new ball game for me.”

Many things are new, even to the experienced teachers at the courses. The project is an educational pilot that has been commissioned and funded by the Wallenberg Foundation. Richard Glassey, who is the first lecturer on the course and is teaching the introductory section, is not used to so many course participants already having such impressive resumes.

“This time we actually might learn something too,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye.

“This is among the most interesting group of people that I've worked with,” says Mattias Wiggberg, who is noticeably proud of the new students and not least how the project has quickly taken shape since its inception in April last year.

“We don’t always work as quickly as this at KTH,” he says, laughing.

Text: Anna Gullers

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