As we leave 2015 behind, it is no longer news that there is a severe shortage of developers in the tech industry, but we hope that the New Year will herald serious momentum to foster future skills.
Despite consistent government rhetoric and media hype around training the next generation of developers, we have yet to see any substantial progress as a whole. Tech companies in London, Stockholm and the rest of Europe are fighting for talented developers and frequently look to hire from outside their local geographies. Although governments have acknowledged that this gap is an issue, part of the solution lies with tech companies themselves. With their vast knowledge and expertise, they are in the most powerful position to provide the training for the skills the industry requires to advance and mature.
To achieve this, more needs to be done to make tech an attractive career choice to our younger generations from the start. Although tech has become a more mainstream career option, with a higher than average number of developers in Sweden versus any other country, it is still not seen as the stable, collaborative or high paying occupation that it truly is. In the UK in particular, Computer Science graduates opt for the 'mega buck' banking and accountancy jobs due to the lure of joining an established 'elite' employee group.
It is also important to note that it was recorded earlier this year that only 30% of the workforce in the major tech companies is female. Trustly values gender equality within our workforce and although we have little trouble recruiting women into tech, it is a constant struggle to find female developers. It is time that we recognise our shortcomings, ranging from schools, to governments to the private sector at our inability to make programming a more attractive career for women. Although excellent initiatives such as Women in Tech, Stockholm, or Girls in Tech UK, seek to inspire talented women and girls to consider a future in technology, we still need to achieve greater scale throughout Europe. Tech companies need to play a bigger role in shifting the perception away from traditional programming as an isolating or daunting career choice, by socialising the process of becoming a developer. Only then will we witness a change in appreciation for the tech industry.
Young and growing tech companies can do just as much as the established players to nurture the next generation of developer talent. This is positively evidenced by former gamekeepers turned poachers, such as Google, Facebook and other tech behemoths, which cherry pick carefully cultivated talent from smart, young companies. Albeit helping to perpetuate the shortage of talent.
We also need to push national governments to introduce more money into the industry by offering a greater degree of support for start-ups. Even though this is already happening, the current levels of investment are insufficient given the projected expansion of the industry. The Swedish government is a prime example of this since it is the biggest investor in Swedish tech companies through the country's Innovation Agency, Vinnova. Stockholm Business Region, an organisation focussed on promoting the city as a business and tourist destination, is also critical to highlighting Stockholm as a European tech hub. Notably, the Swedish government has actively taken steps to engage with the tech industry and has employed Jon Simonsson as Deputy Director General at Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation and is singularly responsible for the growth and development of start-ups. Furthermore, the state funded organisation Almi, Sweden's most active investor in young growth companies has the sole vision to create opportunities to help tech companies and to develop viable ideas. Without government funding and support, the tech industry won't be able to reach its true potential in a world of exponential demand.
But hope is not lost! With our Front and Back-End workforce doubling from 25 to 50 employees over the course of 2016, Trustly is proud to play its part in making tech accessible and empowering future developers across borders. We believe that there is enormous merit in boosting pan-European collaboration. Fostering broader 'coopetition' builds on the power of a collaborative yet competitive environment, which fuels the innovation engine. By encouraging Europe to become a place that nurtures tech excellence will not only help to reinforce the European Union's credentials for producing world leading research and innovation but will also inspire future generations to invest in a tech career.
If others like us commit to making programming an attractive career choice from the get go, the tech industry stands to prosper with a newly inspired generation of programmers. All we want for Christmas is a developer - and wider talent pool to choose from. Is that too much to ask?