In September 2021, Techfugees, in partnership with Google for Startups and Coursera, launched an international pilot training program across our chapters network in Uganda, Kenya, Lebanon, United Kingdom to support 100 unemployed refugees with advanced digital skills to enter the labor market in the tech space.
Accessing remote and digital education
“Education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention. It is protective and empowering, giving refugees the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives. It provides a route to employment and self- sufficiency.” reminds the UNHCR.
However, access to education and digital skills is a challenge for refugees everywhere in the world. In 2020, if only 37% of youth around the world go to university, the percentage goes down to 3% when it comes to refugee youth.
Digital education not only gives access to quality content in a context where the pandemic has shifted the paradigm in terms of remote learning and work, but it also opens doors for skilled individuals to make their place into the tech industry and bring new voices to the forefront.
Overview of the Digital Spark Program
Between September 2021 and March 2022, the 100 selected trainees have access to four certified modules in IT Support, Data Analytics, UX Design and Project Management – four high demand fields in the tech recruitment space, on the Coursera.org platform.
Those fully funded Google Certificates require no prior relevant experience or degree and are designed to provide learners with job-ready skills in high-growth fields in under six months. In this pilot, most of the courses are available in English but also in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, German and Russian.
At the end of the certifications, learners will:
- Understand core concepts to IT Support jobs (e.g., troubleshooting, customer service, networking, system administration, operating systems, and security.
- Know how to assemble a computer, write effective support documentation, route paths and subnets, manage device software, and more!
- Dive into working with Linux, Cloud Computing and Command-Line Interfaces
- Have a portfolio including 3+ projects.
- Dive into working in Figma and Adobe XD – two of the most in-demand tools by employers.
- Know core concepts key to all UX design jobs (e.g., usability studies, design sprints, accessibility).
- Grasp the basics of UX research and how it informs design.
- Have working knowledge of essential data analysis platforms (Excel, SQL, Tableau, R) and when to use them in the data lifecycle.
- Understand how to translate a business question into a data analysis exercise, incl. transforming, visualizing, and modeling data.
- Know how to distill findings into actionable takeaways.
- Have a capstone project completed, to be shared on their resume.
- Know how to manage and run agile and traditional projects & programs from initiation to completion.
- Possess a toolbox of templates and artifacts to manage an array of scenarios and essential elements (e.g. schedules, budgets, product requirements, etc.).
- Understand organizational structure, business process and acumen, and communication and leadership styles.
What are the outcomes so far ?
Thanks to local partners of the programme like Urban Refugees, Youth Innovation Hub, Kukuma Ventures, African Initiative for Human Development, World hope of vulnerable and many others, Techfugees was able to offer this fully funded training opportunity to 40 refugees in Lebanon (Bekaa, Tripoli and Beirut) , 20 refugees in Uganda (Rwamwanja Settlement and Kampala), 30 refugees in Kenya (Kakuma, Dadaab and urban settlements like Mukuru) and 10 refugees in the United Kingdom (Swansea).
The feedback received from the participants are really positive. However, the online learning experience is not without challenges. One needs motivation, good working environment, technical support and that’s precisely the role of the volunteers working with Techfugees to make the program a success.
We are confident that these individuals will get the required skills to enter the job market at a junior level, and we’re not the only one convinced ! We also got contacted by some corporations interested in hiring some trainees after the completion of their certification.
What’s next ?
We firstly want to thank our partner Google for this opportunity and want to salute the initiative of creating Google agnostic training content, aligned with the core value of neutrality that we embrace for duty-of-care to displaced persons and the people we work with. We also want to thank Eduardo Bartolomé, who has been coordinating the program from Madrid on a voluntary basis, with the continuous support of our Chapters team.
The higher number of applications for this program shows the interest for remote education and digital career paths in particular. In Lebanon for instance, our team received more than 300 applications for only 40 certificates available.
This is not enough, and at Techfugees we want to go further to bring more equitable access to education and employment. The equitable access starts with the digital literacy and IT equipment, access to electricity and internet, which remain frequent barriers within some camps and settlements in which our Chapters are present.
The next step is employment. Together we can make this easier.
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