December 5, 2018 / 12:12 PM / 8 days ago

Finnish game maker Supercell launches free coding school to combat labor shortage

Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen launches a teacher-less coding school Hive Helsinki at the Slush 2018 startup and technology event in Helsinki, Finland, December 5, 2018. Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s Supercell, maker of the Clash of Clans mobile game, said on Wednesday it would fund a new software programming school free of tuition fees to be established in Helsinki next year, to combat a lack of skilled coders.

“Supercell is funding it entirely for the first five years,” Chief Executive Ilkka Paananen told a news conference at Helsinki’s Slush startup event, adding the total value of the investment was estimated at between eight to ten million euros.

Paananen and several other Finnish top executives estimated recently that there is an immediate need for 7,000 to 9,000 new coders in Finland, hindering growth in tech-oriented companies.

Paananen said the new school, named Hive Helsinki, would intend to attract students aged 18-30 from different backgrounds, and would especially seek to bring women into the tech industry to address a lack of diversity.

A report released on Tuesday at Slush by Atomico, which runs Europe’s largest independent venture fund, found that 93 percent of all funds raised by European venture-capitalist-backed technology companies in 2018 went to all-male founding teams.

“Coding is not just for mathematically-oriented, engineering-inclined men,” Paananen said, adding that the need for software is spreading across society and throughout industries from healthcare to fashion.

The new coder school will start accepting applications in December and the first 100 students are to begin their three-year long training next September, free of charge as is customary in the Finnish educational system.

The school’s curriculum will be based on that of Ecole 42, a similar tuition-free nonprofit school based in Paris.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; editing by David Evans

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