From coding to co-working: new Stockholm digital centre set to connect international talent

Few cities are more digitally savvy than Stockholm. You may therefore be surprised to learn that tech companies in Sweden expect a shortfall of 70,000 skilled workers in the sector by 2022.

Published: Wed 7 Jul 2021 08:40 CEST
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Photo: Getty Images

That means plenty of job opportunities for coders and tech experts with the right training. But how can you get started? 

Fortunately, Space, a pioneering new centre for digital culture, is due to open in Stockholm in November. Åsa Caap, the new Head of Space, tells The Local how it will help to bridge Sweden’s tech knowledge gap – as well as offering plenty for entrepreneurs, gamers, and more.

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Potential in unexpected pairings

Space will be located in the heart of the Swedish capital, opposite Kulturhuset, the well-established centre for analogue culture. Caap says Space will work closely with both the City of Stockholm and Kulturhuset. “It’s fantastic that we are right next to each other and will complement each other in a beautiful way,” she says. 

Unlikely pairings have huge value, Caap believes; she sees “facilitating unexpected meetings” as key to Space’s purpose. This means being a welcoming place for everyone, including people who may find it harder to break into the tech scene through other routes.

“Our ambition is that people will meet and connect here,” Caap says. “There are a lot of people with different nationalities and backgrounds in Sweden and we want to be a really inclusive place. We also work a lot on including women, so that women will feel welcome and safe."

Photo: Åsa Caap

Democratising access to digital knowledge 

The looming talent shortage in the digital sector is “a massive problem for Sweden”, says Caap. That’s why she says a range of major tech companies are in negotiations to support the Space Academy

The academy will run six-day bootcamps, a key aim of which is to help seemingly unlikely candidates for tech jobs get a foot in the door. Could this be where you kickstart your own coding career?

“We have so many companies wanting to be part of this,” says Caap. “All the tech companies know is that they don’t know how they will recruit or foster the new generation.” 

Details of the courses are currently being refined in workshops and Caap emphasises the importance of training recruits in the skills that are most needed. “We’ll follow what the market needs,” she says. “But we’re definitely going to start with coding.”

Courses could potentially cover both frontend and backend development, as well as other elements of digital media, including social media marketing. 

So who should apply? While developing skills in young people is a key aim, Space Academy is open to anyone. Applications from women, who remain underrepresented in tech, and international residents of Sweden are encouraged. 

“We want to democratise access to digital and tech knowledge beyond people who already have role models or connections in the industry,” says Caap. 

While a six-day course may seem short, it could see you qualify for an internship at a partner company. 

Got a teenager with an interest in coding? Introductory youth training programmes will be offered free of charge during school holidays for teens aged 14 and upwards. 

Most adults will have to pay but the exact costs and details of how to apply have not yet been decided – watch this space.

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A new co-working community

Space also offers opportunities for start-ups and smaller businesses. Four floors will be dedicated to Space Community, a co-working area with desks reserved for anyone working in digital entertainment.

Are you a would-be entrepreneur with a winning idea? “We’re going to have a pitching session in the autumn, where you can win a free touchdown membership at Space Community,” says Caap. “If you have an idea for the digital entertainment industry, keep an eye on our website.”

It’s vital that the co-working area keeps a tight focus on this sector, she says. “When you promise the chance to meet other like-minded people, you have to stick to that promise,” she says. “We’re really committed to creating a community.” 

Photo: Space

She confesses that she and her colleagues have a secret dream about its potential to bring people who would otherwise never meet together. “Someone from one side of the city meets someone from another side of the city with a different background and they start a company together,” she says. “That’s the front page we want to see.”

With the countdown to its grand opening under way, Space itself is also recruiting in a wide range of areas from managerial roles to staffing its bars and restaurants. “We really want a diverse crowd,” says Caap. “If you’re from an international background, please follow the job openings on our website.”

A meeting place for the digital world 

Gaming is big business in Stockholm and “an essential part of Stockholm’s digital culture”, says Caap. Space is likely to host major esports events in its arena (the largest permanent venue for esports in Europe with a capacity of approximately 650). New games could also be launched there with top players competing against each other – watched by both live spectators and a streaming audience – while Universal Music is also involved in talks about potential collaborations.

“It’s going to be broadcast-ready, so maybe in the future, events will always combine a live audience and broadcasting,” says Caap. 

Digitalisation has been accelerated in various ways by the Covid-19 crisis. What this will mean in the long-term is not yet clear but Caap says Space offers a positive vision of digitalisation bringing people together. 

There are already plans to launch Space in other countries “within a year or two”, she adds. “The beauty is that there are no country borders within the digital community,” she says. “Space is a perfect example of a physical meeting place for the digital world.” 

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