VW looks to expand coding schools to bolster tech skills

Volkswagen AG is considering funding coding schools in Mexico and Brazil as part of its strategy to recruit software-savvy employees.

The carmaker is already backing similar institutions in the Czech Republic and Germany — including in Berlin and near its Wolfsburg headquarters — and is now weighing to expand, said Gunnar Kilian, the board member in charge of personnel.

Operated by French non-profit 42, the software academies don’t charge tuition and use a collaborative, gamified learning process. Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google also back the schools.

Germany is under pressure to address a shortage of skilled workers that has been exacerbated by an aging population and a sub-par education system. A dearth of coders is especially troublesome for the country’s auto industry as it ramps up the production of electric vehicles that rely on software platforms and digital features.

“We have a massive need for skilled workers in the IT sector in Germany,” Kilian said in an interview. “We must work together to meet this demand.”

Europe’s biggest automaker is trying to get its tech push back on track after software development hiccups at its Cariad unit delayed several models, including the important electric Porsche Macan. Cariad will be part of an autonomous driving venture in China and has hired roughly 1,500 coders this year, Kilian said. – BLOOMBERG