But if you want to turn that job into a career, and if you want to join in the ‘fika talk’ with your team, Swedish is a skill you can’t afford not to have.
Just ask 28-year-old Wojciech Hanus from Poland.
Wojciech moved to Sweden a couple of years ago, armed with a master’s degree in Control System and Robotics. For the first year he worked remotely, before deciding he wanted to integrate more into society and find a full-time role.
But he knew in order to do that, he needed to improve his language skills.
“That’s really why I took the course,” he explains of his decision to take Swedish for Programmers (SFX-IT) at C3L, a community learning centre in Tyresö just southeast of Stockholm.
The specialist course is designed to help foreigners with a background in programming or IT enter the Swedish job market.
Students are taught Swedish at the same time as learning IT vocabulary and taking optional courses in programming languages Java and C#. They can study either 15-18 hours a week at C3L in Tyresö or three hours a week online, a popular choice with those already in full-time work.
Wojciech (pictured right) chose to study on-site at C3L, splitting his days between Swedish and programming lessons.
“Generally the classes were really small,” he recalls, adding this was a real bonus because tutors could give each student sufficient attention.
It helped, Wojciech says, that everyone was committed to learning and took the course seriously.
“I was studying alongside people who also had higher education and were motivated to learn. People really wanted to be there, which was maybe the biggest advantage of the course.”
Wojciech particularly enjoyed learning about data analysis as part of the SFX-IT course.
“It was my favourite part of the course, and it motivated me to focus on this area,” he says.
Fast forward a few months and his motivation has certainly paid off.
Towards the end of the course, SFX-IT tutor Pablo Win put Wojciech in touch with a local recruitment company. Soon after he landed his dream role as a Data Analyst at Swedish industrial company Atlas Copco.
“It was crucial,” Wojciech says of the career support offered by Pablo, which included helping him to get his CV into shape.
Wojciech is now part of a team of seven programmers, six of whom are Swedish.
Atlas Copco is international and everyone speaks English, but as Wojciech’s manager Jörgen Maass explains it, ‘fika talk’, when the team sits down for coffee and a chat, can often switch to Swedish.
“Professionally we can cope with a non-Swedish speaker, but lots of the small talk is in Swedish. So it does help to speak Swedish for the social aspect,” says Jörgen.
Jörgen adds that while Atlas Copco may be open to non-Swedish speaking candidates, he knows of many smaller companies where this isn’t the case.
“Before I worked at Atlas Copco I worked as a consultant. Lots of smaller Swedish companies told me that they wouldn’t hire a consultant who couldn’t speak Swedish,” he recalls.
Both Wojciech and Jörgen agree that speaking Swedish is definitely an advantage for a non-Swedish programmer or data analyst.
Above all, studying at SFX-IT helped Wojciech achieve what he set out to do: get a job in Sweden and integrate into the country.
“It definitely helped me to learn how to speak the Swedish language and start working here in Sweden.”
This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by C3L Tyresö.