Volkswagen has launched an in-house training scheme for software developers, as Europe’s biggest carmaker looks to expand its capabilities beyond manufacturing into “soft” mobility products and services.

The “Faculty 73” programme, which will see its first intake next month for a spring course start, aims to produce a first batch of developers by the beginning of 2021. It is open to both external candidates with as well as existing Volkswagen employees, such electronics technicians, automation engineers, IT specialists and product designers.

“Over the years to come, [the car] industry will need more more software developers that the labour market and educational institutes can offer,” said VW board member for human resources Gunnar Kilian. “We will be making a key contribution to closing this gap.”

The AutoUni training centre, a major VW facility in Wolfsburg, will be rejigged into a “digitilisation campus”, with a permanent focus on software and IT. This, along with the inclusion of existing staff in the new training scheme, hints at an effort to redirect existing resources towards digital development, rather than tapping into third-party collaborations or recruiting anew for the purpose.

Volkswagen, whose preoccupation with the dieselgate fallout made it a latecomer of sorts to the “mobility as a service” (MaaS) space, has been recently showcasing a number of initiatives to keep up with German and French rivals.

Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS), one of the spearheads of the group’s digitalisation efforts, took a stake in asset finance software house VTXRM in April, with an eye to implement its tools across the group’s supply chain.

The group’s Skoda subsidiary sponsored a “smart mobility hackathon” in Prague this year, and The captive’s UK arm also held its first startup competition in August, following the cue of rival BMW Financial Services UK.

The parent VW entity has also been experimenting with car subscription and peer-to-peer car-sharing through its Porsche brand, and plans a 2020 European rollout of the “We” suite of mobility products, explicitly aimed at “non-owners”.