On Friday, I attended the G3ID (Geneva Global Goals Innovation Day) event, a one-day expo focusing on solutions for creating a more sustainable world and offering workshops specially designed for developing innovations in radical and exciting new ways.
While walking around from table to table, I noticed one in particular in which the presenters were describing their work directly helping migrants and refugees, but not in terms of food and clothing donations; their approach was a little different: education. This was the Project Integration stand, where co-founders Priya Burci and Vincent Baumgartner were busy explaining to all that would take the time to listen, how meaningful the work of teaching practical skills could not only benefit the course students, made up entirely of refugees and migrants, but also the tech world at large through diversity.
Project Integration is the brainchild of co-founders Vincent Baumgartner, Priya Burci and Alexander Bredy in partnership with Croix-Rouge Genève, Impact Hub Geneva and Global Shapers Community. Inspired by similar projects elsewhere The association initiated the project in October and held its first class in November. The aim of Project Integration is to teach refugees and migrants how to code, with the hope that the courses offered will give them all a desirable and transferrable new skill. This project aims to help refugees and migrants navigate an already difficult job market with the hope that their unique perspectives and experiences will diversify the tech world.
The Project Integration team is planning to host hackathons and find start-up internships for their students to encourage innovation and collaboration. They also aim to expand their work to other parts of Switzerland and abroad through sister projects.
Project Integration is aiming to address 2 significant deficits that exist in Swiss economy:
the first in the IT sector, which is growing at such a high rate that by 2024, there is expected to be a deficit of approximately 45,000 workers and out of the refugees that can work, only 2.7% out of 22,135 do. Priya said, “We hope to address both these deficits by building a bridge, professionally integrating our students by teaching them IT skills and teaching them how to is a really wonderful opportunity because it could be so many different branches. I mean, every organization needs a website so, there is a massive demand for IT workers but there is also an entrepreneurial aspect: if they have an idea that [isn’t] necessarily tech-oriented, they can still build a website for that and promote it that way, so a high level of digital literacy is super important for innovation but I also think [digital literacy] is important for everything.”
To truly be inclusive in their classes, Project Integration not only offers classes to teach coding, they also teach basic computer skills for those who have very little or no experience in using one which allows those students to graduate to the coding classes afterwards.
If you would like to get involved in the work that Project Integration is doing, they welcome help on all fronts: they are seeking laptop donations, people to teach class and more. Find out how you can get involved with this awesome initiative by contacting them via their Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or email < [email protected] >.