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Re:Coded

We train conflict affected youth for high value careers in the IT sector, enabling them to become assets to the local economy.

Photo of Jaime Mikush

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

With the economy depressed & millions displaced, job opportunities for youth in Turkey are  few & in the informal sector, where pay is low & exploitation is high. This is particularly concerning for youth with a university degree & a dream of a better tomorrow. With the average rate of displacement now estimated at 26 years, there is a need for a sustainable education & employment model not bound by geography that enables them to rebuild their lives. There are thousands of unfilled software engineering jobs, & that number continues to grow every year. The qualified workforce gap in the IT sector in Turkey is over 30% & hiring technical talent is cited as the key challenge for businesses. Despite this, vulnerable youth are largely under-represented in the technology industry. This challenge is rooted in the mismatch between youth skills & employer needs. If unaddressed, the problem will intensify as the digital revolution transforms society, economies & jobs. The outcomes of this revolution are likely to perpetuate & worsen existing chasms between those who are/are not prepared for the Digital Revolution. If technology cannot be harnessed to connect people to high-quality education & jobs, & refugee youth continue to be marginalized in the digital economy, we will witness greater income inequality & increased unemployment. We believe that learning a skill of the future like coding can allow youth to join the digital economy, work remotely & avoid negative coping strategies.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Turkey hosts the highest number of refugees globally & has the daunting task of integrating millions of refugees into its economy & communities. Language & other barriers inherently limit the opportunity for refugees to access services directly from the Turkish government. While the government of Turkey & international community has taken incredible strides to support refugees, tens of thousands of refugee youth in Turkey continue to lack options for long-term, sustainable economic solutions.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

We build bridges & break down barriers between Syrian refugees & Turkish communities by having a balanced mix of nationalities collaborate, learn and work in teams in our programs. Moreover, by training a diverse workforce that is outside of traditional talent pools & filling technical skills gaps, we are building bridges between refugees & the private sector both locally & globally ensuring that refugees are seen as an economic asset, not a burden.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

While providing aid to meet basic needs is critical, Re:Coded takes it one step further to provide an opportunity for a sustainable livelihood for those who have been displaced, regardless of their location or any local labor restrictions. We are able to provide conflict-affected youth with marketable skills that allow them to access purposeful & dignified employment in local labor markets. Moreover, our students’ average salaries triple after going through the bootcamp. This enables them to support their families & provide an opportunity for access to higher quality healthcare & education. After learning technical coding skills, leadership & other interpersonal skills – our fellows also develop & support local tech ecosystems to empower their own local communities. On top of that, we aim to foster empathy & intercultural understanding by having a mix of refugee & host community members in all of our programs that all speak the same language & then work side-by-side to learn new ones.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Across the world’s conflict zones, 75 million are being denied education & employment. We want to change this by bridging the education/employment divide for refugee youth. We’re catalyzing the growth of MENA’s tech ecosystems - we’ve trained 200+ in 3 countries (40% women - helping to bridge the gender divide in IT). 90% are working as developers & have tripled their salaries. They’re not only economically resilient, they’ve changed their perceptions of their neighbors - & have partnered to launch businesses creating tech to solve challenges in their communities. Our estimates indicate that over 10 years, they’ll have a $240 million impact on the MENA economy. Our inventions have long-lasting positive effects in the communities in which we work. Over the next decade we’ll increase the supply of technical talent in the global market. By showcasing the potential of refugees & women to contribute to the economy, we will address stigmas & play a key role in solving community issues.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Unlike most training programs in humanitarian contexts, Re:Coded were founded on the belief that conflict affected youth should be prepared for the future of work instead of just traditional skills like handicrafts & mechanics. Instead, we’ve built a highly scalable learning community & sustainable model of job creation not bound by geography. In doing so, we’re able to end the dangerous cyclical relationship between economic disenfranchisement & instability. Our students not only have a strong desire to learn how to code, they also want to make friends with others with a passion for technology & work together to build local tech communities & ecosystems. This is why 100% of our 150+ alumni would recommend our programs to family or friends - & they have. Both Re:Coded & our growing community of students and alumni in Turkey, believe that it is time to invest in new approaches to building bridges between communities & enabling conflict affected youth to access high value careers.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

In the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Turkey welcomed their new neighbors, however increased competition for resources has led to tensions. Anti-refugee violence is on the rise-as Turks see neighbors as culturally different & misinformation has plagued social cohesion efforts. Without an increase in job opportunities, tensions will rise. Few programs in Turkey support youth in receiving tech training – & the ones that do are inaccessible to Syrians due to cost, language, or lack of context in addressing refugee challenges. Re:Coded is one of the only actors in Turkey able to play a role in defusing tensions through our innovative programs. Youth in our programs work side-by-side with their neighbors. Feedback shows perception shift between people on the move & their neighbors – although dynamics between these two communities have unique challenges – a passion for learning new tech skills builds bridges that transcend nationality & turns new neighbors into lifetime community members.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

The desire for developing bridges that bring people together already exists in Turkey. However, Re:Coded is the catalyst that makes all of this possible. Without us, like-minded individuals with a passion for technology, would unlikely be able to cross paths. Even with the negative rhetoric echoed in national news outlets, the youth in our programs become friends & work together or start businesses together. We place a huge emphasis on community ownership & students that complete the program obtain lifelong skills that benefit both themselves & their communities. When our students graduate, they find gainful employment & become leaders in their communities. Our alumni continue to participate in workshops & have expressed interest in volunteering to teach coding for kids or other introductory workshops. Continued facilitation & overall encouragement will allow these budding tech ecosystems to grow into successful, supportive environments that benefit communities for generations to come.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We work with: Knowledge Institutions: Udacity, Flatiron School, ConsenSys & Coursera - world-class curriculum providers that provide training materials. Private sector: We build sustainable pipelines of employment opportunities for graduates (i.e. SAP, Careem, WeWork, Atlassian, Microsoft & Slack) & design programs to ensure skill matching. Public Sector: Government, UN agencies, & civil society actors (i.e. United Work, Support to Life, Concern Worldwide, & local municipalities) We also want to create partnerships to expand our project goals & objectives. Partnering with OpenIdeo’s Education in Emergencies Alliance would allow us to expand our online curriculum, allowing for worldwide student access. We would also love to work alongside other education organizations to learn about different approaches to education in complex environments & connect further with like-minded technology partners who share our mission to prepare disadvantaged youth for the workforce of the future.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Early Adoption: We have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have proof of user uptake (i.e. 16% to 49% of the target population or 1,000 to 50,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Re:Coded

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Re:Coded is a social impact organization integrating conflict affected youth into the labor market and taking on the global digital skills gap. Since its inception, we’ve been passionate about empowering youth to become tech leaders in their communities, particularly women - in order to play a role in bridging the digital gender divide in technology worldwide. In Turkey, there are very few actors operating in this space - without our sustained presence, youth with a passion for coding & other tech skills wouldn’t have access to tech training opportunities or even a local tech community to be a part of. Re:Coded has been in Turkey for over 2 years & has built a vast network of partners & program graduates, all passionate about supporting the growth of the tech ecosystem in Turkey.

Website URL:

https://www.re-coded.com/

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

USA

Organization Headquarters: City / State

New York City, New York

19 comments

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Photo of Uchenna Okafor
Team

Hi Jaime Mikush! Thank you for this insightful design for displaced youth in conflict regions. If able bodied youth are suffering hard times, I imagine what could be of disabled persons in such regions. Thankfully, software engineering is a profession that requires a lot of commitment and time. Yes; disabled persons have surplus of both, in addition to resilience and doggedness that accompany disability. So, is there any provision in this design to accommodate the blind, lame, dumb, deaf, etc? You may agree with me that even the blind can cope with software engineering.

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Uchenna Okafor thank you so much for your comment. We don't have specific provisions in our program to account for those with disabilities. You are correct that disabled people are equally as capable in becoming software engineers but it isn't something that we have yet encountered in our programs. We are currently working with psychologists and educators to better design our programs to include those with learning disabilities and hopefully we will be able to provide our training to those that are blind or deaf in the future!

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