Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, unemployment continues to rise at a rapid rate.
In Sweden, despite a unique COVID-19 strategy, nearly 410,000 (8.0% of the workforce) are now registered as unemployed according to statistics from the Swedish Public Employment Service Arbetsförmedlingen. The share of inactive is expected to reach 10% this summer.
This massive wave of layoffs has put tech in a unique position. While the startup ecosystem is facing layoffs too, some startups are thriving due to sudden changes in market behaviours.
Putting the tech community at work
To connect job seekers with startups still hiring, Karin Bjerde, Mia Mattsson, Raman Ramalingam, and Andreas Wennberg, launched the community-driven initiative swedentechconnect.se. I called them to learn more about their project and their mission.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones
“We reached out to Raman and Andreas at Sting. And it turns out, they were working on a similar project, but for their portfolio companies internally. So we said why not just combine it — drop all logos, drop all associations with whoever we work for, and just aim to spread this as much as possible. And that’s really how we started it. And within six days of having first approached Andreas and Raman we were up and running and live and so it was a really quick turn around. And it just goes to show that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones (…) It doesn’t need to be fancy to be helpful.”
A gap between open positions and available skills
“In one way, it’s like a perfect representation of the market. Like there is always some skills that are high in demand that Sweden doesn’t have and some other skills which are a bit lower in demand that we have in surplus. It’s interesting to get this kind of data. So for instance, if we look into the platform, we can see that around 100–120 people have tagged themselves in either sales or marketing, but there are only 10–15 roles that are within sales and marketing specifically. Whereas on the developer side, the demand is much more compared to the profiles, which is a typical representation of the Swedish talent market.”
An opportunity for rescaling and upskilling
“I hope the government takes its responsibility and opens up shorter term courses. I think this is a key moment for rescaling and upskilling. And to sort of realise that this imbalance that Raman was speaking about, it exists. And just because all of a sudden we have an economic crisis does not mean that all of a sudden, this supply/demand imbalance resolves itself. So, I mean, I would hope that government-funded education, like we have in Sweden, would be able to pivot to the kind of rescaling or upskilling that is needed so that we can help people who come from perhaps not as digitally native workplaces. Like the hotel industry, for example (or similar) to really be able to apply new skills and learn new skills and go into new industries, if the tourism industry is slower to recover. So I really hope, so far I haven’t seen much initiative on that, and I think that’s a real missing piece of the puzzle.”
The current crisis, an accelerator
“It’s like this crisis is revealing our flaws and this mismatch between what people know and what the companies are looking for. It’s just like it’s more visible these days. It’s still not a lot of developers unemployed but there’s some people that are unemployed that maybe had a bad situation before the crisis also, but now they have it even worse. So it just goes a lot faster and the change is happening quick. But the trend has been there for a long time.”
Introducing free webinars to support candidates
“Our mission is to help the ecosystem of startups and scaleups. And we would like to do the most that we can for our network, since we have now over 200 open positions and 400 candidates. So yeah, we want to spread the word and help them with competences etc. So we’re actually starting with free webinars for example with a HR perspective to help the candidates with their CV, and get help from experts there.”
We can all contribute
Create a profile if your company is still hiring or if you are currently looking for a job.
You can also contact their team on LinkedIn if you would like to be involved and help candidates during one of their upcoming webinars or contribute in any other way.
This post is part of a series of interviews with people starting digital initiatives that can have a positive impact during the pandemic. It was first shared with my newsletter subscribers, you can sign up here.