Creating a CEE powerhouse of digital skills and sourcing

A merger of two leading emerging Europe edtech firms could provide a boost for the region’s drive to become a global hub for digital skills.

Two of emerging Europe’s leading edtech companies have joined forces to create one of the region’s biggest digital skilling and sourcing powerhouses.  

They hope that the merger will help attract more investors to the region as it strives to develop a skill-driven economy. 

The firms, Budapest-based Codecool and the Gdynia-based Software Development Academy (SDA) – both founded in 2015 – will together boast a presence in eight countries (Poland, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Czechia, Estonia, and Albania) and will train 15,000-20,000 individuals from the Central European region annually. 

With over 300 employees, 17 digital reskilling pathways, a network of 1,600 mentors, the merged companies offer skilling, upskilling, and reskilling to private individuals, companies and governments. The two firms are on target for combined revenues of 20 million euros this year. 

“This is an exciting new chapter for both companies where we create a real powerhouse for digitalisation,” says József Boda, CEO of Codecool. “Through our consolidated digital skilling programmes, we confidently continue to serve the needs of individuals, companies and governments. Graduates from our courses are in high demand, especially as western European and US organisations look to outsource or find additional talent while lowering costs.” 

For the public sector, the two firms have undertaken two successful reskilling programmes, training 10,000 ICT specialists in Albania and 600 engineers in Hungary. The company also continues to encourage and support women in ICT through several of its programmes. 

Filling recruitment gaps

Gaining digital skills is a global requirement and the merged companies believe that they can help the EU and UK to upskill workers or fill recruitment gaps. The EU is currently struggling with a shortfall of approximately 1.8 million ICT experts.  

While the Covid-19 pandemic led to increased demand for cyber skills, there is still a cybersecurity workforce gap of more than 2.72 million positions globally. In the UK, tech job opportunities hit a 10-year high as the demand for skilled workers outgrows the level of digital skills available. 

“There is a global battle for digital talent, especially coders and programmers, so our main aim remains to provide high quality digital skilling for employees and employers – but on a much larger scale,” says Michał Mysiak, CEO of SDA, who will lead the merged company as CEO.  

“We believe that the combination of Codecool and SDA – with distinct regional and category strengths – will boost the skills level of Central Europeans who are hungry to learn and will be pivotal the digital transformation of Europe and beyond.” 

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The need for highly skilled ICT professionals

While progress is being made across emerging Europe to digitally upskill its workforce and citizens and address the digital divide, according to the European Commission’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) the region’s overall performance remains underwhelming.

Only Estonia, Slovenia and Lithuania score above the EU average in the areas of human capital, connectivity, integration of digital technology, and digital public services.

Meanwhile, four of the five worst performing states in the EU are in emerging Europe: Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. The fifth is Greece.

A key goal of the European Commission’s Digital Decade programme is to employ 20 million ICT specialists by 2030, with an equal proportion of men and women.  

To reach this objective, 161 billion euros will be allocated to innovation and the digitalisation of EU markets under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Plan.  

In Poland 21.3 per cent of the total 35.4 billion euros recovery fund, more than seven billion euros, has been earmarked for digital transformation alone. In Romania, the figure is around six billion euros. 

“To encourage even more investors to the region there is a need to provide highly skilled ICT professionals in a fast-track mode and the merged company is an answer to this need as well as a unique chance for the region to become an emerging ICT service centre on a global scale,” adds Mysiak. 

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