Swedish for Programmers: Three languages for the price of none

What if we told you that you can learn not just one but three languages that will guarantee you stand out in Sweden’s booming tech industry? With SFX-IT, you can learn Swedish as well as two IT-programming languages. The best thing about it? It’s all for free.

Swedish for Programmers: Three languages for the price of none
Photo: C3L Tyresö

Michele Dorigatti signed up to SFX-IT after moving to Stockholm from his native Italy in 2016. The IT programmer, who had a Bachelor of Computer Science and five years of experience as a developer under his belt, had always dreamed of living abroad. After researching different options he settled on Sweden, knowing he could rely on his English skills to find work in the tech industry.

While Michele correctly assumed he could get by speaking just English, he soon decided it was time to start learning the local language.

Find out more about Swedish for Programmers

“I started with the regular language schools but I wasn’t really satisfied, so I changed between four or five schools altogether. There are a lot of possibilities so you have to really search and ask around,” he explains.

Then he discovered SFX-IT, a specialised language course for IT professionals. It particularly appealed to Michele as he was keen to study alongside industry peers with similar motivation and competences.

Besides the Swedish and IT lessons, once a week practical career-focussed lessons are on the agenda. Michele says these were especially useful and prepared him for his future position at ÅF, a Swedish engineering and design firm.

Photo: Michele Dorigatti

“Sometimes they invited a company to speak to us and it was more focussed on general things that are useful for all students, like how to deliver an investor pitch. I really appreciated that because they actually asked me to do a pitch at my company,” he told The Local.

Nils Johansson, an IT-teacher at the school says SFX-IT also gives students the practical skills to conduct themselves in Swedish in professional situations by teaching industry-specific vocabulary.

Read also: How to start a programming career in Sweden

“I try to take the more tech-focussed Swedish words that I bring up in class and put them in a list of words. In each lesson the students learn words that come up in class or are related to IT,” he explains.

Nils is a recent addition to the teaching staff at SFX-IT after C#, the programming language he teaches, was added earlier this year to the offerings available to students taking lessons at the C3L Center for Lifelong Learning in Tyresö.

“They had similar courses in Java but they wanted to try a beginners’ course in C# which is commonly used in professional settings. They wanted a professional who had experience working in Sweden’s IT industry to teach the course,” he says.

C# classes are proving to be popular with students, due to the demand for the versatile programming language in Sweden’s tech industry.

“It’s highly sought-after because you can do whatever you want with it. You can make games or you can make professional systems for handling banking, for example. You can do anything,” Nils explains.

Michele says he feels lucky to have graduated with not only a new language, but also certifications in both Java and C#, which could otherwise have cost in the region of $250 (€216) per certification.

Find out more about Swedish for Programmers

Both students and teachers agree that integration is a key outcome of the course. Although not required, Michele says he feels more integrated and included when using his Swedish skills in the workplace.

“I started my position at ÅF in November while I was still studying. It is an international company where it’s possible to do everything in English but I speak Swedish every day and my life is easier because of that.”

Nils agrees that speaking Swedish isn’t a dealbreaker when it comes getting hired in Sweden, but it does make finding work and integrating with colleagues much easier.

“It’s not impossible to get a job in programming if you don’t speak Swedish. When you work with IT in Stockholm, you work with a lot of consultants who come from other countries so I’m very used to speaking English, but if you know more of the local language, you’ll have a better chance,” he says.

Read also: Is this your shortcut to a job in Sweden's tech industry?

It took Michele a few attempts to find the right Swedish school, but he feels he eventually found the right fit with the industry-specialised course at SFX-IT.

“I would highly recommend it. Out of all the schools I’ve been to it’s definitely the best.”

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by SFX-IT.


Cookie fight: Austrian activist in tough online privacy fight

Five years after Europe enacted sweeping data protection legislation, prominent online privacy activist Max Schrems says he still has a lot of work to do as tech giants keep dodging the rules.

Cookie fight: Austrian activist in tough online privacy fight

The 35-year-old Austrian lawyer and his Vienna-based privacy campaign group NOYB (None Of Your Business) is currently handling no fewer than 800 complaints in various jurisdictions on behalf of internet users.

“For an average citizen, it’s almost impossible right now to enforce your rights”, Schrems told AFP. “For us as an organisation, it’s already a lot of work to do that” given the system’s complexity due to the regulators’ varying requirements, he added.

The 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes strict rules on how companies can use and store personal data, with the threat of huge fines for firms breaching them.

While hundreds of millions of euros in fines have been imposed following complaints filed by NOYB, Schrems said the GDPR is hardly ever enforced. And that’s a “big problem”, he added.

He said the disregard for fundamental rights such as data privacy is almost comparable to “a dictatorship”. “The difference between reality and the law is just momentous,” Schrems

‘Annoying’ cookies

Instead of tackling the problems raised by the GDPR, companies resort to “window dressing” while framing the rules as an “annoying law” full of “crazy cookie banners”, according to Schrems.

Under the regulation, companies have been obliged to seek user consent to install “cookies” enabling browsers to save information about a user’s online habits to serve up highly targeted ads.

Industry data suggests only three percent of internet users actually approve of cookies, but more than 90 percent are pressured to consent due to a “deceptive design” which mostly features “accept” buttons.

Stymied by the absence of a simple “yes or no” option and overwhelmed by a deluge of pop-ups, users get so fed up that they simply give up, Schrems said. Contrary to the law’s intent, the burden is being “shifted to the individual consumer, who should figure it out”.

Even though society now realises the importance of the right to have private information be forgotten or removed from the internet, real control over personal data is still far-off, the activist said. But NOYB has been helping those who want to take back control by launching
privacy rights campaigns that led companies to adopt “reject” buttons.

 Shift of business model 

Regulators have imposed big penalties on companies that violated GDPR rules: Facebook owner Meta, whose European headquarters are in Dublin, was hit with fines totalling 390 million euros ($424 million) in January.

One reason why tech giants like Google or Meta as well as smaller companies choose against playing by the GDPR rules is because circumventing them pays off, Schrems said.

Thriving on the use of private data, tech behemoths make “10 to 20 times more money by violating the law, even if they get slapped with the maximum fine”, he added.

Contacted by AFP, both companies said they were working hard to make sure their practices complied with the regulations.

Schrems also accuses national regulators of either being indifferent or lacking the resources to seriously investigate complaints. “It’s a race to the bottom,” Schrems said. “Each country has its own way of not getting anything done”.

Buoyed by his past legal victories, Schrems looks to what he calls the “bold” EU Court of Justice to bring about change as it “usually is a beacon of hope in all of this”.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is considering a procedures regulation to underpin and clarify the GDPR.

In the long-run, however, the situation will only improve once large companies “fundamentally shift their business models”. But that would require companies to stop being “as crazy profitable as they are right now,” Schrems said.