How asylum seekers could help ease Finland’s tech skills shortage

ESPMI Network

608 Iraqi Eyas Taha, left, is one of five recent graduates of the developer programme for asylum seekers. Photograph: Jussi Rekiaro

Pioneering programme is teaching refugees coding so they can become developers and is helping them integrate in society

Jon Henley

Problem one: Finland’s otherwise flourishing startup scene has a chronic shortage of developers.

Problem two: the 32,000-plus asylum seekers who arrived in the Nordic country last year – many young, highly educated and computer literate – face waiting for years before they land a job.

“Essentially, we just thought: there is a way to at least start addressing these issues,” said Niklas Lahti, the chief executive of Helsinki-based web services company Nord Software. “We can teach refugees coding so they can become software engineers.”

This month the first three graduates of Integrify, the developer programme for asylum seekers that Lahti and his friend Daniel Rahman, boss of recruitment company TalentConnect…

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