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As part of the TechConnect action programme, a number of initiatives are being launched to increase equal opportunities in the tech sector by making related study programmes and tech jobs accessible to everyone. In practice, this means that thousands of women, people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and owners of SMEs will be trained to become coders, data analysts, growth hackers, UX designers or tech administrators.

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What is the goal of the project?

Encourage 50,000 people from underrepresented groups to follow a tech study programme and get a tech job.

TechConnect’s target groups:
20,000 employees of corporates (‘generation X’ – 40 and over) to be trained or re-trained
15,000 women, young people with a migration background, and members
of specific social groups to be trained or re-trained at private academies
9,000 unemployed people to be trained or re-trained in (new) tech
5,000 owners of SMEs to learn digital skills
1,000 ‘overqualified’ people to be trained to become designers or tech administrators.

Who initiated the project and which organizations are involved?

TechConnect is an initiative of the Amsterdam Economic Board, and TomTom, with support from the ICT education fund CA-ICT. Dozens of companies, academic institutions and government organisations from the AMA take part. All participants aim for greater diversity in the tech ecosystem of an inclusive labour market in the tech sector across the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

What can other cities learn from your project?

In the past few months, TechConnect has conducted extensive research to identify the obstacles and critical factors that stand in the way of equal opportunities, diversity and inclusivity in the tech sector. We have now gained some insights into the reasons why some groups are less likely to enter the tech sector:

  1. Communication issues - Adverts and other communications by institutes offering tech training or study programmes are often written in a style that is either difficult to understand for TechConnect’s target groups or doesn’t reflect the way they see themselves. There is a shortage of role models in their immediate environment and people don’t have a clear idea of job profiles in the tech sector or which skills are required. Not enough companies practice inclusive recruitment.

  2. Lack of confidence - As long as tech jobs are being associated with being good at maths and English, many won’t even begin to train themselves in outcome-oriented thinking or learning how to learn. It’s important to convey the fact that there are tech programmes and jobs on every level and for a wide variety of profiles, whichever branch of Dutch secondary education (MBO, HBO or WO) you have followed and whether or not you have a diploma. Let’s give everyone the certainty of knowing that there is a tech job for them.

  3. Basic prerequisites - A lack of financial means to follow tech training or a study programme, or to own a computer, fast wi-fi and software can be an obstacle. It still happens too often that a student from a poor background, who can’t afford a decent laptop, is excluded from a class. This can easily lead to that student dropping out from the entire programme. In addition, schools in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods often don’t have the facilities to include digital skills in their curriculum.

  4. Lack of discipline - The discipline needed for being on time and doing one’s homework and the notion of learning and developing all your life are often influenced by social context. A student’s home life may be disruptive or friends or family may exert a negative influence, leading to these values and life skills suffering. However, they are crucial values and skills in tech jobs, partly due to the constant changes the industry is subjected to.

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