OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

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

Written by

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

Join the conversation:

Comment
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!

Photo of Memet Unsal
Team

Hi Jamie, we met the Re-coded team in Sanliurfa when we were organizing the InnoCampus project there. It's been a while and it would be good to reconnect to see if there could be opportunities for collaboration. When you're in Istanbul, please let us know. Durmus Sabuncu Zeynep Aykul 

Photo of Mabel Pr
Team

Hi Jaime, fab project! I see potential for collaboration here if you need high-quality English language classes.

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Mabel Pr thank you so much for your comment. There is definitely value in providing high-quality English language classes but how our programs are currently run now - our students have to know English before participating. That being said, we would love to be able to provide English lessons so that we can expand the pool of eligible participants but our current organizational capacity would not be able to support it. In the future, I think this would be a great collaboration!

Photo of Mabel Pr
Team

Hi Jaime, currently we are focused on people who need English at the present or in the near future. They can be currently living in an English speaking country, near to arrive or in educational programmes where they need to improve the language. We don't have yet the capacity to expand to pools of eligible participants. Maybe in the future! My email is mabel@amallearning.org. Please, drop me a line and I'll keep your email for future collaboration.

Photo of Jenna Hornsby
Team

I'm aware of Re:Coded and it's a great project. It would be great to find ways that skills gained could feed back into Syrian civil society, through partnerships or consultancies with CSOs, who often desperately need and cannot afford IT talent.

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Jenna Hornsby thank you so much for your comment! We agree completely! This is something that we are currently exploring to see how we could facilitate these types of opportunities. It would be great if we could facilitate apprenticeships or internships with a stipend for our graduates which gives them work experience and also an opportunity to support Syrian CSOs. Stayed posted!

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi Jaime Mikush  the challenge's idea phase will be closing on 17th August. Could you clarify if you are working directly with the people on the move like refugees and IDPs and building brides between the USA and Turkey? What are the results of the project so far in your Early Adoption phase?

I would suggest also to have a look at our challenge brief: https://ideo.to/K22qFn and our challenge evaluation criteria: https://ideo.to/NQ6TlJ

To help guide your research, you can have a look at our community research toolkit: https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5a147545b687370001bfd10c/5d1669526ad3cb33291bf633_User-Experience-Interview.pdf, and possibly create and share with us the project user i.e. refugees or IDPs in Turkey journey map which is very important to integrate into this platform as you progress in the challenge!

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Hi Bremley Lyngdoh thank you so much for your feedback. I have been over the challenge briefs and guidance and didn't see anything that specifically required building bridges between the US and Turkey. Because of tensions between refugee and host communities, we are seeking to build bridges between them to support social cohesion through technology in Turkey. We have trained over 200 youth across the region in our immersive coding bootcamps - where they have not only reported tripling their average salaries but a change in perception of previously held views towards their neighbors.

We are also in the progress of developing our journey map! Hopefully we can update you soon!

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

I am happy to see your progress Jaime Mikush on this platform so keep up the good work. I saw you are based in the USA so I was wondering if your were building bridges with Turkey. To follow up on Gaspard Nordmann perhaps you can collaborate as a partner to scale your reach and impact with Rishab Khanna  from www.se.iofc.org and Tom Duncan  from www.goodbanc.io who are building a Migration Lab Program with Edwyn Odeny Odhiambo  in Kenya and Bayubasire Joel Djanda in Uganda which will become a finance platform for refugee playing the role of social entrepreneurs in the Horn of Africa and East Africa and expand to other countries. https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/enabling-payments-for-ecosystem-services-via-goodwallet-for-idps-to-restore-land-in-kenya

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Bremley Lyngdoh - we are headquartered in the US but operate in Turkey, Yemen, and Iraq. This particular idea is for our programs in Turkey.

Thank you so much for your insights and partner suggestions, I really do appreciate it. After the holidays we can definitely reach out to those other organizations to potentially collaborate!

Photo of Gaspard
Team

Hi Jaime Mikush; It seem to be a very good idea.
One short question. How do you manage to insure that your beneficiaries find a job after your training. Do you realize any type of support for them to find a job?
Greetings,

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Gaspard Nordmann. Thank you for your comment. We don't guarantee a job after our training, but we work really hard to ensure that our beneficiaries have the skills to find not only find a job after the bootcamp, but to help thrive in their careers long-term. We give soft skills training such as professional etiquette & communication, time management, among others. We also have career prep training where we help students with the CVs, mock interviews, etc.

Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Amazing work Jaime Mikush 

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Thank you Udoka Inwang 

Photo of Gastone Mwiine
Team

Thanks Jaime Mikush for the good idea. My question however is; how can those without laptops or computers learn coding? You talked of e-learning platforms like coursera, which obviously have god content, but accessing such platforms need a lot of data to sign up, view lectures. How do you plan to solve the connectivity issue?

Photo of Jaime Mikush
Team

Hi Gastone Mwiine thank you for your response. Having a laptop isn't a requirement for joining the bootcamp, while many of our students have their own personal laptops, for those that don't we have a laptop loan program. Students are able to use the laptop during the duration of the bootcamp and at the end of the course, depending on performance and need, we are able to donate the laptop so that we can assist our students in finding gainful employment and help them to continue their learning journeys. In the contexts in which we work, particularly Turkey, connectivity isn't a huge challenge, however we do make sure that our training spaces have high-speed internet connections and we provide open study hours each week so that if connectivity is an issue, our students have a space to work. I hope that answers your questions - let me know if I can clarify anything further.

Photo of Gastone Mwiine
Team

Thanks for the response. I liked your idea and will be following you. I wish you all the best.
I am also launching an idea related to digitalization in Uganda. Our country is different and connectivity is a big issue.
I invite you to check my idea : https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/1-capital-business-virtual-exchange and let me know what you think.