Amsterdam Area fosters homegrown tech talent

TechConnect encourages 50,000 people from underrepresented groups to work in tech

The TechConnect action programme, a collaboration with Booking.com, TomTom, Rabobank and the CA-ICT education fund, has announced several initiatives to increase equal opportunities and diversity in Amsterdam’s tech sector. Making related study programmes and jobs accessible to everyone means that 50,000 people from groups that are currently underrepresented will be able to storm the tech job market over the coming four years. In practice, this will result in a more diverse and inclusive tech scene in Amsterdam, filled with men and women of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Homegrown talents will be trained to become coders, data analysts, ‘growth hackers’, UX designers and tech administrators.

Due to the continual growth and development of new technologies, the economy and job market are changing rapidly. Their impact on organisations, people and society as a whole is increasing. Digitisation is creeping into more and more traditional professions and into professions that would not typically be labelled as ‘tech’. As such, tech is playing an increasingly central role across all sectors and levels of education. Everyone is affected and everyone is needed to take up these tech jobs.

TechConnect’s initiatives
“In the past few months, TechConnect has conducted extensive research to identify obstacles and critical factors that stand in the way of equal opportunities, diversity and inclusivity in the tech sector. This research forms the basis of the action programme, and we have already launched the first initiatives. We want to transform vulnerable neighbourhoods into tech neighbourhoods,” say Viktor Bos and Ruben Nieuwenhuis, programme directors of TechConnect.

One of the initiatives is set to go live this month: two new coding schools that will take on unemployed young people of all levels. MolenGeek, the Brussels-based coding school, incubator and co-working space, will open franchises in the Netherlands under the name TechGrounds. The tech hub, originally from the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, will open its first franchise locations in Zaanstad Poelenburg and Amsterdam Nieuw-West in October 2019. Locations in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities are set to follow.

“At Booking.com we believe in a diverse and inclusive society in which everyone has the chance to realize their full potential. TechConnect is a unique program for the deployment and development of talent from all corners of society, offering participants the opportunity to contribute to the digital world of tomorrow: in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands or perhaps elsewhere in the world.” – Gillian Tans, CEO Booking.com.

In addition, a guide for studying and working in tech was released early this year. TekkieWorden.nl offers an overview of study programmes for each of the branches of Dutch secondary education (MBO, HBO and WO), as well as job profiles in the tech sector. Another programme that has been launched recently, TeachForAmsterdam, is a cooperation between businesses, secondary schools and the teacher training programmes of the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. It aims to train 300 ‘hybrid’ informatics teachers within four years.

More initiatives are being developed. These include the TechEduFonds, which makes funds for re-training and further training available, and WorkForce Pact, a programme for re-training and further training for members of ‘Generation X’. As part of the WorkForce Pact, 20 corporates from the Amsterdam Area have committed to training a total of 20,000 employees to transform them into data-driven professionals.

“Rabobank Amsterdam champions equal opportunities in education and creating the conditions needed for a city to offer plenty of chances for everyone. TechConnect will instil the necessary digital skills in participants to get on in a job market in which ‘tech’ will play an increasingly significant role.” – Barbara Baarsma, Rabobank Amsterdam.

Corinne Vigreux, founder Codam and co-founder TomTom comments: “Eight years ago, entrepreneur Marc Andreessen said that ‘Software is eating the world’ – and that statement still resonates so powerfully with me. Digital knowledge really is the foundation of tomorrow’s workforce. But digital skills aren’t just required by the tech industry: there are tens of thousands of jobs – even just in Amsterdam – from a very broad spectrum of industries that require data science, software engineering or many other digital skills. The work of Techconnect will ensure that anyone, irrespective of age, gender or background can make the most of the incredible job opportunities on offer. TomTom is committed to help in any way we can.”

Read more in the following news publications:  Het Parool, Financieele Daglad (1), Financieel Dagblad (2), AD and AT5.

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About TechConnect
Initiated by the Amsterdam Economic Board, Booking.com, Rabobank, TomTom and the CA-ICT education fund, TechConnect unites dozens of companies, schools, universities and government organisations from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area in a mission to increase diversity in the tech sector and create an inclusive labour market for tech in the Amsterdam Area. For more information, see: www.techconnect.city

About the Amsterdam Economic Board
The Amsterdam Economic Board works with industry, government organisations and universities towards a smart, green and healthy metropolis. In its efforts to improve welfare and well-being in the Amsterdam Area, the Amsterdam Economic Board focuses on five urban challenges: circular economy, digital connectivity, health, mobility and future talent. The Board brings together insights and stakeholders and stimulates promising initiatives in the region. This creates innovative solutions and chances for scaling. For more information, see www.amsterdameconomicboard.com.