I’ve often argued that IT companies need to let go of their demand that employees have a good grasp of the Swedish language. Given the chronic lack of software developers in the Linnaeus region, it felt to me like a luxury requirement.
I was wrong, and I stand corrected.
Last week at IEC‘s first ever Stora IT-kompetensdagen the topic came up again, and as usual I said something like “how difficult can it be?!?”
The answer is simple: It’s not just about speaking Swedish. If that’s all it was, then there wouldn’t be a problem. Swedes normally speak English well enough to handle non-Swedish conversations. But there’s much more to be considered:
- Internal processes and communications in the organisation, including information and collaboration resources like document archives, intranet, forums, etc
- Document templates and procedures for requirements, testing, technical and end-user documentation
- The accurate vocabulary as such that allows the team to consistently communicate with high quality – at meetings, in internal communications, etc
All in all, it’s a huge investment to move from Swedish to English in all these areas – something that is needed in order to fully integrate non-Swedish colleagues into the organisation and its processes.
So let’s collaborate in communicating this to our various education providers – for those students from other countries and cultures who don’t have a reasonable command of the Swedish language: If your hope is to find a job here after you’ve completed your education, please make sure to learn Swedish! It will open so many doors for you and ensure that you will find employment here.
Our IT companies need you, and unfortunately your technical skills aren’t enough in themselves – as part of their teams, with few exceptions you need to be able to communicate in Swedish.