IT education for individuals and IT experts for big corporations within months instead of years. This is the promise of SDA that has launched an academy in Finland with the help of Business Finland and Helsinki Business Hub.
So many people are interested in us! Little did Piotr Mazur, Vice President of Software Development Academy (SDA), know when the company decided to organize an info session in Helsinki in Autumn 2019. Some hundred people interested in building a career in programming and testing showed up. The positive reputation of the largest IT school in Central Eastern Europe had spread to Finland.
“We had had some Finns in our courses in Tallinn and gotten inquiries from Helsinki, but this interest was shocking. We decided to expand to Finland,” says Mazur.
SDA has established a company to Finland and will start its operations at full speed at the end of Q1 in this year, 2021. The Helsinki office will be the hub for other Scandinavian markets.
An alternative to traditional IT education
The example from Tallinn highlights the first part of the SDA business kicking off in Finland – the IT courses meant for anybody, who wants to learn IT skills and start an IT career at a faster pace compared to studying at university. Mazur expects that the online and classroom courses will attract people from young individuals taking their first steps in education to career switchers.
“Employed people can’t study during daytime so we have created 3–8 month long IT courses that are based on studying in the evenings and weekends. The focus is on practising, because you have to learn to code to become a programmer,” says Mazur.
Mazur highlights that the students will not only get a certificate, but help in finding a job. SDA’s Graduate Success Manager, among many things, gives advice on how to create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile and organizes a job interview practice with a trainer.
Training projects with Nordea and Tieto
The new kind of education approach has proven itself as 95% of the SDA students graduate. Until now, the six-year old company has educated around 10,000 people in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, UK, Albania, Philippines, Poland and Romania.
In addition to the IT courses for anybody, SDA provides tailor-made IT training and recruitment projects with big corporations such as Ericsson, Nordea, Sapiens, Lufthansa and Tieto. SDA has run already over 200 projects abroad, and looks for new projects in Finland and other Nordic countries. Even here the big corporations such as banks and IT companies have a constant lack of IT experts.
“We believe that companies will also start to re-educate employees to new job roles, for instance, service desk professionals to IT testers, and that will be one of our priorities,” says Mazur.
“So much help”
Both Business Finland and Helsinki Business Hub have boosted SDA’s start in Helsinki. Business Finland has given guidance on setting up the business, and Helsinki Business Hub has supported with opportunity and competitor analysis, market information and contacts to the IT cluster. HBH has also provided information on legal matters, and all of this has speeded up the entry process.
“SDA is solving a challenge that’s critical for the growth of all technology companies today, so it’s great to have SDA contribute to and to be part of our local ecosystem. The collaboration has been smooth and very forward-looking. Welcome to Helsinki,” says Sonja Malin from Helsinki Business Hub.
“What does Team Finland work means in practice? This case shows it perfectly. It’s when a Business Finland colleague in Warsaw meets with an innovative company, interested to expand to Nordics. Invest in Finland gets involved together with colleagues from Helsinki Business Hub to help the company to establish operations in Finland. Congratulation to SDA,” comments Karen Grigoryan from Invest in Finland.
“We have got a lot of support, which has taken us by surprise. The advisors have been open to answer all of our questions, and we have got valuable recommendations on how to enter the market. This has made us confident that Finland is open for new modern companies,” says Mazur.
The initial talks with the corporations has showed that there is interest.
“We have learned that Finns know their needs and are prepared in meetings. We just need to break the ice and show that we are trustworthy,” says Mazur.
SDA will soon hire a Country Manager and a Sales Manager to lead the operations. Within two years, SDA will grow to a 10-person company with customer project managers, trainer recruiters and graduate advisors and 50 external contractors, the trainers.
“Our trainers will be contractors, who have daily jobs in IT companies. They are the ones with the most updated practical tech knowledge,” ends Mazur.
Writer: Katja Alaja