Having the right employees makes a business hum. Anything is possible.

For IT positions, it not only takes tech skills, but also people skills and business savvy. A coder must interact productively with a team, but also communicate with, hear and implement the needs of the client.

The days of the isolated computer hack are done.

The people at member company Academic Work prefer the term People and Performance to Human Resources. As a recruitment agency for young professionals, they get the right people in order to build an excellent culture, which they can then provide to their clients.

Their turnover grew by 54% last year, and they’re eyeing similar growth this year. When we recently went to their offices in Helsinki for a chat, the buzz was noticeable.

What’s the secret?

“Our goals are clear and every day we review our progress towards those goals; we also follow our mission statement towards an excellent business culture relentlessly,” says Katja Miettinen, Head of Marketing and Communications.

Over 100,000 thousand professionals have become employed through Academic Work since it was established in 1998.

There is a shortage of coders in Finland with the right combination of tech-, people- and business-skills in the workforce.

Academic Work set up Academy, an accelerated learning program, and made the bold promise that after three months, accepted candidates would become IT consultants with permanent jobs and good salaries—guaranteed.

The process involves limited theory and massive amounts of hands-on experience, including 500 hours of coding integrated into projects.

There are thousands of applicants to each course and 20-30 are accepted, but this allows Academy to have the most motivated candidates become the ideal IT workforce for their clients. There are no age or background restrictions—all you need is a burning desire to learn and perform. Graduates include a former priest, pilot and C-level executive from a large firm.

The Academy also offers tailor-made courses to develop specialists in the areas their clients need.

“If you can’t find your ideal candidate for a certain job, perhaps you should change your criteria. Instead of someone who has a lot of experience, hire someone who is very willing to learn and develop into the role you need,” says Stefan Heinrichs, Managing Director at Academic Work.

What is the main takeaway?

A company’s ‘people plan’ should be a priority for the management team, says Stefan, as competition for talent heightens. Keep in mind that an intelligent person with a good attitude can learn just about anything.

On top of this, Amcham Finland has long been championing non-Finnish speakers, who are an untapped resource. It has been shown that adding even one foreigner to your team will lead to more productivity.