From coding to co-working: new Stockholm digital centre set to connect international talent

Few cities are more digitally savvy than Stockholm. You may therefore be surprised to learn that tech companies in Sweden expect a shortfall of 70,000 skilled workers in the sector by 2022.

From coding to co-working: new Stockholm digital centre set to connect international talent
Photo: Getty Images

That means plenty of job opportunities for coders and tech experts with the right training. But how can you get started? 

Fortunately, Space, a pioneering new centre for digital culture, is due to open in Stockholm in November. Åsa Caap, the new Head of Space, tells The Local how it will help to bridge Sweden’s tech knowledge gap – as well as offering plenty for entrepreneurs, gamers, and more.

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Potential in unexpected pairings

Space will be located in the heart of the Swedish capital, opposite Kulturhuset, the well-established centre for analogue culture. Caap says Space will work closely with both the City of Stockholm and Kulturhuset. “It’s fantastic that we are right next to each other and will complement each other in a beautiful way,” she says. 

Unlikely pairings have huge value, Caap believes; she sees “facilitating unexpected meetings” as key to Space’s purpose. This means being a welcoming place for everyone, including people who may find it harder to break into the tech scene through other routes.

“Our ambition is that people will meet and connect here,” Caap says. “There are a lot of people with different nationalities and backgrounds in Sweden and we want to be a really inclusive place. We also work a lot on including women, so that women will feel welcome and safe.”

Photo: Åsa Caap

Democratising access to digital knowledge 

The looming talent shortage in the digital sector is “a massive problem for Sweden”, says Caap. That’s why she says a range of major tech companies are in negotiations to support the Space Academy

The academy will run six-day bootcamps, a key aim of which is to help seemingly unlikely candidates for tech jobs get a foot in the door. Could this be where you kickstart your own coding career?

“We have so many companies wanting to be part of this,” says Caap. “All the tech companies know is that they don’t know how they will recruit or foster the new generation.” 

Details of the courses are currently being refined in workshops and Caap emphasises the importance of training recruits in the skills that are most needed. “We’ll follow what the market needs,” she says. “But we’re definitely going to start with coding.”

Courses could potentially cover both frontend and backend development, as well as other elements of digital media, including social media marketing. 

So who should apply? While developing skills in young people is a key aim, Space Academy is open to anyone. Applications from women, who remain underrepresented in tech, and international residents of Sweden are encouraged. 

“We want to democratise access to digital and tech knowledge beyond people who already have role models or connections in the industry,” says Caap. 

While a six-day course may seem short, it could see you qualify for an internship at a partner company. 

Got a teenager with an interest in coding? Introductory youth training programmes will be offered free of charge during school holidays for teens aged 14 and upwards. 

Most adults will have to pay but the exact costs and details of how to apply have not yet been decided – watch this space. Or, rather watch the Space website

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A new co-working community

Space also offers opportunities for start-ups and smaller businesses. Four floors will be dedicated to Space Community, a co-working area with desks reserved for anyone working in digital entertainment.

Are you a would-be entrepreneur with a winning idea? “We’re going to have a pitching session in the autumn, where you can win a free touchdown membership at Space Community,” says Caap. “If you have an idea for the digital entertainment industry, keep an eye on our website.”

It’s vital that the co-working area keeps a tight focus on this sector, she says. “When you promise the chance to meet other like-minded people, you have to stick to that promise,” she says. “We’re really committed to creating a community.” 

Photo: Space

She confesses that she and her colleagues have a secret dream about its potential to bring people who would otherwise never meet together. “Someone from one side of the city meets someone from another side of the city with a different background and they start a company together,” she says. “That’s the front page we want to see.”

With the countdown to its grand opening under way, Space itself is also recruiting in a wide range of areas from managerial roles to staffing its bars and restaurants. “We really want a diverse crowd,” says Caap. “If you’re from an international background, please follow the job openings on our website.”

A meeting place for the digital world 

Gaming is big business in Stockholm and “an essential part of Stockholm’s digital culture”, says Caap. Space is likely to host major esports events in its arena (the largest permanent venue for esports in Europe with a capacity of approximately 650). New games could also be launched there with top players competing against each other – watched by both live spectators and a streaming audience – while Universal Music is also involved in talks about potential collaborations.

“It’s going to be broadcast-ready, so maybe in the future, events will always combine a live audience and broadcasting,” says Caap. 

Digitalisation has been accelerated in various ways by the Covid-19 crisis. What this will mean in the long-term is not yet clear but Caap says Space offers a positive vision of digitalisation bringing people together. 

There are already plans to launch Space in other countries “within a year or two”, she adds. “The beauty is that there are no country borders within the digital community,” she says. “Space is a perfect example of a physical meeting place for the digital world.” 

A global tech and startup hub: learn about the opportunities to find a job or start your own business in Stockholm

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‘Don’t wear bright colours’: Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Swedes have an international reputation for dressing well, with Scandi style a popular trend outside Sweden. The Local asked Swedes and foreigners living in Sweden to try and figure out the best tips and tricks for how to dress like a Swede.

'Don't wear bright colours': Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Black is best

When asking several Swedes their top-tips on how to dress like a Swede, many agreed – wear black.

Young professional Tove advises to keep it “all black, minimalist”. Uppsala newspaper columnist Moa agrees: “Wear a lot of black clothes and DON’T wear sneakers or ‘comfortable’ shoes, like running shoes, with dresses.”

Black is a neutral colour and, in general, if you get the neutral colours right you have got a long way in following the Swedish style. 

Neutral colours and a lot of knitwear is a good starting point. Photo: FilippaK/

Stay neutral 

Sweden might be saying goodbye to hundreds of years of neutrality by joining Nato, but Swedish fashion maintains its strong neutral stance when it comes to colour combinations.

Generally speaking, in autumn and winter Swedes tend to wear darker colours, as Sharon put it: “lots of beige, grey, black and ivory knits or wool. Jeans black or any shade of blue. Black tights with white sneakers for skirts and dresses”.

“Swedes in general will wear black and navy together which I’ve not seen before,” she added.

However, as the weather gets warmer, things change, as half-British half-Swedish Erik explained: “in summer/late spring Swedes change shape and personality,” adding a bit more colour to their wardrobe.

“Lots of colours yet still somewhat monochrome,” he said.

Most Swedes don’t wear a tie at work. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Follow the news trend, drop the tie

Nils, a reporter and presenter for public broadcaster SVT in western Sweden, does not always wear a tie in front of the camera – and he said his colleagues on national news don’t wear ties either.

“It’s not a must,” he said.

A blue shirt, no tie, top button open, beige chinos and a grey dinner jacket is the look he chose when presenting the evening news a few weeks ago.

Nils Arnell presenting the news on SVT Nyheter Väst. Photo: Nils Arnell/SVT

On a day to day basis Nils, who stressed that he’s “not a fashion expert”, gave the following advice: “As long as you manage to dress in a neat style, you can get away with quite a lot.”

“A white t-shirt and an overshirt work well in most situations and look stylish.”

Stay classy, even in class

Engineering student Erik (not the same Erik quoted previously) recently returned to Sweden from a one-year exchange at Birmingham University, where he noticed a big difference in student style between the two countries.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that on university campus there are so many people wearing work-out clothes, at least where I was”, he said.

“In Sweden, it’s more common to wear jeans than tracksuit bottoms, compared to the UK”. 

It’s also common to see a difference in styles even between departments at Swedish universities. The law and economics departments, for example, tend to wear more formal attire with a higher number of students wearing shirts and polos than, say, social sciences or engineering students.

Many students seem to wear a toned-down version of what they might be expected to wear in their future workplace.

When in doubt, think Jantelagen!

Equality and conformity are important concepts when it comes to many aspects of day-to-day life in Sweden, including the clothes you wear.

This doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same as everyone else, but more that being too flashy or over-the-top can be frowned upon.

This can be traced back to Jantelagen, “the law of Jante”, a set of 10 rules taken from a satirical novel written by Danish author Aksel Sandemose in the 1930s, which spells out the unwritten cultural codes that have long defined Scandinavia.

Jantelagen discourages individual success and sets average as the goal. It manifests itself in Swedish culture not only with a ‘we are all equal’ ethos but even more so a ‘don’t think you are better than anyone, ever’ mindset.

And this is seen in Swedes’ attitude to clothing, too. Flashy, expensive clothing with obvious logos or brands designed to show off your wealth breaks the first rule of Jantelagen: “You’re not to think you are anything special”.

‘Stealth wealth’

This doesn’t mean that Swedes don’t wear expensive clothes, though. They’re just not in-your-face expensive.

Felix, a podcaster from Stockholm describes it as “stealth wealth”, saying that Swedes would have no problem buying and wearing “a black jacket without any tags for 10,000kr”. 

Despite living in Sweden his whole life, he said that it’s not always easy to get the style right.

“I’m struggling myself,” he admitted.

He suggested taking a look at fashion blogger and journalist Martin Hansson for inspiration on how to dress. 

“Do NOT use bright colours,” Felix added.

Birkenstocks with socks. Photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT


Most of those we asked said that Swedes are a fan of white trainers, most commonly Stan Smiths or Vagabonds.

With the shoes being popular all year round for men and women, this can cause issues at house parties – as Swedes take off their shoes when they come inside.

This inevitably results in confused guests at the end of the night trying to figure out just which pair of white trainers belongs to them – and trying to find one missing shoe the next day because someone accidentally walked away with one of yours is more common than you might think. 

Vans trainers are also popular amongst more alternative crowds (black of course). At work, dress shoes are popular in the winter and loafers or ballerinas in the summer.

In the summer months, you’re likely to see Birkenstock sandals on men and women. Most Swedes wear Birkenstocks without socks – unless they’re off to do their laundry in their building’s tvättstuga.

Birkenstocks are also popular as indoor shoes all-year-round, both at home and at work. It is common to have a “no outdoor shoes” policy in gyms, schools and some offices. This is to avoid bringing a lot of dirt indoors, especially in the winter months when there is snow, rain, grit and salt on the streets.

H&M’s then-CEO Rolf Eriksen wears colourful socks at a press conference in 2006. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/SCANPIX/TT

Don’t forget the socks!

As you often take your shoes off indoors in Sweden, your socks are visible.

This has led to an unexpected trend for colourful socks with interesting patterns, which are a great way to break the monotone of neutral colours and conformity by expressing your personality – in a lagom way, of course.

A pair of colourful socks or a playful pattern will get you noticed and likely be a conversation starter at a dinner party.

What’s your best advice for dressing like a Swede? Let us know!

This article is based on the responses we received from Swedes and foreigners in Sweden on what they think you should wear if you want to follow Swedish fashion trends.

If you have any tips of your own which you think we’ve left out, let us know! You can comment on this article, send us an email at [email protected], or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @thelocalsweden