These programs require Amsterdam for a job in tech
Business is booming for Amsterdam’s startup and tech scene. With this rapid growth comes an equally growing need for talent. And although the vacancies remain vacant, COVID has left many people sitting at home without jobs. Re-qualifying these people for a career in tech makes sense to all parties.
Repackaging for technology
No wonder that at Amsterdam-based Cod Thickness, Codam and TechMeUp, the number of applications is through the roof. A host of new faces from all kinds of backgrounds are ready to embark on a new adventure in Amsterdam’s burgeoning startup and tech scene. Surprisingly, there is one problem that makes it much more difficult: the lack of money available for requalification.
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Aiming for more diversity in the technicians’ talent pool is a win-win. More diverse teams are better equipped to create better products for a company that involves all kinds of different people. But striving for more diversity can also help tackle the tech talent shortage that has haunted the country for years. It is difficult to find good people at all levels. So it makes sense not to look only at university graduates or experienced technicians.
Co-Thicker understands the 50+ crowd
Amsterdam is home to several educational programs that aim to solve – or at least minimize – the skills gap and fill the many vacancies. At Cod Thickness, they have always wanted to make working in technology attractive to a diverse audience. Now they have launched Work in Tech, a special program for people 50 and over who want to start a new career.
The new training program is an initiative of the French association INCO, while the educational material is provided by Google. Co-Thickness facilitates the program and helps students find employment afterwards. “We wanted to create more diversity in the ages that entered. Before starting this program, the oldest student was 49 years old. With Work in Tech, Cod Thickness aims for 50 percent of students to be 50 years of age or older. Right now that number is about 19%. 100, the oldest student being 61 years old.
From hula dance to technology
“This is the age group that has been hit hard by the COVID crisis,” says Miloud Ourahou, head of growth at Cod Thickness. “The courses we offer them have a lower entry level. We don’t want to rehabilitate these people to become hardcore developers. We see that there are a lot of vacancies for these types of jobs. Last year, Adyen hired 12 of our students for support roles. The combination of our knowledge and our network is what makes it worth it. “
“Our mission is to fill the talent gap. We were already doing this, for example for women, now we are trying to include other groups as well. The crowd they attract for their classes is indeed diverse, says Ourahou. People with previous coding or engineering experience want to catch up. But also a professional hula dancer and opera singer, looking for a new career. “During COVID, more than 50 people gathered at the UWV (Dutch unemployment office) where they were told to look for a job in IT. This is where the jobs are. But it’s intimidating, they have no idea how it works. So it’s good to have a basic primer on the pitch, to see if that works, and maybe continue from there. “
Codam’s full-time requalification
The courses offered by Cod Thickness are generally short and gentle. For a deeper dive into the world of tech, those with the ambition of a career in tech can turn to Codam. The Amsterdam-based requalification program offers full-time training of three to five years.
Upon graduation, a job as a developer, data analyst or engineer is virtually guaranteed. The program, introduced in the Netherlands by Corinne Vigreux, offers peer learning. Participants do not need any prior studies or diplomas to enter and Codam covers the tuition fees.
Get in line
If this sounds like a good deal to you, you are not alone. Codam has no problem attracting new students. “There is a waiting list,” says Yasmine Najja-Brouwer, Codam communications and marketing manager. However, retraining people to work in IT is one of Coda’s goals. They have also put a lot of effort into increasing the diversity of people who find tech jobs.
One of the difficult goals that Codam sets for itself is to get 50% of women to join. According to Najja-Brouwer. This objective has been achieved. So now it’s time to step it up. “This is not enough. We want to fully reflect the people of Amsterdam.” This is proving tricky. Even without paying tuition fees, engaging in a full-time education program of a few years doesn’t is not something that everyone can afford.
Financial problems for students
“The current education system in the Netherlands makes it really difficult,” says Najja-Brouwer. “We are not recognized as an official educational institution. We are not accredited, which means our students cannot apply for government support like scholarships or student loans. Thus, if you come from a job in the hotel industry for example and you are motivated to requalify yourself, you will not benefit from any financial assistance and will not be eligible for student accommodation.
These structures prevent Codam from fully exploiting the pool of motivated talents. Najja-Brouwer: “This is also what our director Roos Peters is fighting for. Do a lot of lobbying and participate in political discourse. We need new laws to make sure that other educational institutions like ours also qualify you for financial support. It is a complex puzzle with many different parts. “
Codam Assistance Program
For now, all Codam can do is ease the financial burden on some of their students. They do this with their aid program, providing housing for students who really need it or cheap travel for students living further afield. They even offer jobs on their campus so some students can cover their cost of living. “But these options are not endless,” adds Najja-Brouwer.
Tech me Up Interest Free Loans for Students
Enter TechMeUp. A fund specifically for students who are struggling to make ends meet while re-educating themselves for a new career in the burgeoning tech scene. This fund offers students an interest-free loan to cover education costs. The student repays the loan once he has found a job.
The loan is not only used to cover tuition fees, which is not a problem when registering for a study at Codam for example. TechMeUp can also provide a cost of living advance. “After a lot of research, we noticed something in the market,” says Nikky Hofland, CEO of TechMeUp. “A lot of people who drop out of these classes struggle with the financial part.”
Focus on the money
That’s why TechMeUp not only offers an advance on rent, groceries, or whatever is needed to fully focus on studying. “For example, we can offer a supplement to the statutory minimum of benefits, so that students can live normal, worry-free lives while concentrating on their studies. There are a lot of financial things that one can run into that make career change very difficult.
However, TechMeUp’s funds are not endless either. They were launched with 375,000 euros made available by businesses and governments. The ambition is to increase to 2 million euros in two years. COVID threw a wrench into these plans. “After the second foreclosure it was very difficult to raise funds,” says Hofland. “A lot of people take out our loans, but at the moment we can only offer it to about 10% of them.” Currently, TechMeUp has raised around 500,000 euros.
‘It’s a strange moment’
“We are very happy that 25 people are returning to their studies. Over the next month, four of them will graduate. We have already found a job. But we are also disappointed that companies do not want to invest. It’s a very strange time, when companies don’t want to take any risks, while at the same time there are so many people out to make a big change in their lives.
To attract more funds, TechMeUp is about to launch a new campaign to gain attention. Hofland says it will be in the style of Apple’s legendary “Think Different” campaign. Or in this case, the message will be “hire different, invest differently,” says Hofland. “We want tech companies to look at the type of people they hire differently. Think of more women, people of color, or people 45 or older. But also think of someone who made a career as a flight attendant and is now retraining as a data analyst. Also consider investing in people who are struggling financially as a result of COVID. “
Role models for future generations
There is currently a big shortage of technological talent and we don’t have time to wait for young people to fill this gap, ”says Hofland. Targeting a diverse crowd now will pay off in the future. “The average age of students who enrolled through us is 34 years old. It’s a very diverse crowd, from out-of-school graduates to college graduates. Many of these people are parents. They are the perfect models for their children. Having mom convert back to being a technician will act as an accelerator for the next generation’s interest in working in technology, says Hofland. “Every year that we wait is one too many.”
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