We Are Coding Association Interview

We’re Coding Association is receiving institutional grant with the support of Turkey Mozaik Foundation. We had the opportunity to talk about the association and its efforts in the context of the grant, which was extended in the winter.

Can you tell us about the work of the We’re Coding Association?

At We’re Coding, we try to make Turkey a center of talent in the field of technology. The problem we focus on is the high level of youth unemployment in Turkey, and the lack of education opportunities which would enable our youth to express their potential in areas of high added value. Today we rank at the top of the list of OECD countries in terms of NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) youth. Approximately 30% of young members of our society is idle. On the other hand, there are thousands of young individuals who are aware of the importance of innovation and technology in terms of shaping the future, and who wish to work on these, while the relevant industries also need young talent. At We’re Coding, we try to bridge the gap between determined youth and the tech-sector, and to develop, in Turkey, talents who are ready to produce, rather than merely keeping an eye on technology.

Which activities did you implement to date, with these issues in mind?

Actually, we engage in two fundamental activities:
1) We’re Coding Academy: This academy helps develop the technical and social skills high-potential and determined youth in general and women in particular need to get a career in technology. The young individuals we admit in our academy exhibit determination to work as software developers. They are the talented graduates of relevant departments, even though their socio-economic conditions, education levels or job experience are considered inadequate in terms of setting them up for the careers they desire. The senior year students or fresh graduates of coding-related university programs get a free and accelerated software development training in 3-month bootcamps, where they acquire the skills to become successful software developers. By the end of 2019, we plan to introduce approximately 700 software developers to the industry, through bootcamps we organize in 4 cities.
2) Club of Graduates: The Club of Graduates is the life-long learning network open to the graduates of the We’re Coding Academy. It was established by the graduates, to help build a network of the young individuals trained at the We’re Coding Academy, in order to keep track on their professional development and support them in their career journeys. The events, talks, presentations, networking activities, and workshops organized by our graduates are expected to help the young individuals get acquainted faster with the industry, and benefit from the experiences of other members of the community.
You are using the grant to employ a project coordinator to facilitate your organizational development, who is expected to alleviate the burden of your Board of Directors, allowing your organization to organize events focusing a range of issues. Can you elaborate on that point?
This grant was a very crucial element of support in terms of expanding our capacity. Thanks to this support, we were able to set up the team we needed to organize our activities. The project coordinator we hired and the assistant and intern to support the coordinator allows us to work with a more systematical and strategic perspective in achieving our goals.

What is your predictions for Turkey in the coming years, regarding the issues you focus on?

As the Tech-Sector Needs Assessment Status Report we prepared in 2019 with the support of the EU, the tech sector will continue its rapid growth. We especially expect the talent deficit regarding the artificial intelligence / machine learning / data analysis, and Python to grow significantly in the next five years. However, given the discrepancy between the university curricula and the expectations of the sector, the fresh graduates often lack such skills at the time of their graduation. The issue can become even direr if we cannot achieve some progress with the universities.
The talent discrepancy affecting the sector, combined with an ever rising demand, renders access to quality education for talented youth crucial. Private courses are not economically accessible for most students. Against this background, we predict endeavours like We’re Coding, with a marked focus on the sector in terms of their content, will become more frequent occurrences and play a major part in developing the talent pool in the tech sector, curbing the youth unemployment, and ensuring equal opportunities for all.

What are your plans for the second half of 2019?

In the second half of 2019 we will organize at least 6 bootcamps and 10 Club of Graduates events. Furthermore, we are working on a comprehensive talent development program focusing on artificial intelligence, as a first in Turkey, and we will be offering that program from August on, with the support of Microsoft. We also intend We’re Coding to contribute to the sector in Turkey, as an organization generating and developing knowledge on artificial intelligence, by bringing together various disciplines’ experienced professionals who engage in academic studies in parallel to their careers in world leader enterprises, in the form of the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Board we will be announcing soon.

And in all these endeavours, the capacity we developed with the grant from Turkey Mozaik Foundation, we had received through the Civil Society Support Foundation plays a crucial part. For that we would like to voice our gratitude.