Refugees trained in coding to meet tech skills shortage

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Refugees and migrants are being trained as sought-after coding experts to help secure careers and address a skills shortage in the West Midlands technology industry.

Smethwick-based ACH (formerly Ashley Community Housing) is leading the project with the support of the CodeDoor network.

ACH was established in 2008 as a social enterprise specialising in the integration of refugees through training and accommodation.

The organisation has resettled more than 2,000people from refugee backgrounds in this time and is now a leading provider of integration services for refugee and newly-arrived communities in the UK.

ACH believes these under-represented groups could be the answer to addressing a talent gap within the technology industry after concerns were raised that skills shortages may affect the tech sector if there are not enough newcomers wanting to work in the area.

It says one reason for this skills gap within technology roles is the under-representation of groups such as the BME community, refugees, migrants and women.

CodeDoor provides scholarships in coding to refugees, migrants and women and has connections with businesses in the tech industry, which they look to connect learners with on completion of the course.

Twenty-one-year-old Rashiid is one of the students currently on the CodeDoor scholarship and is in the process of studying his nanodegree, the third step of the programme. He has also gained quality training support with not-for-profit cooperative, The Developer Society.

Terry Williamson, ACH CodeDoor training coordinator, said: “Rashiid has been the best candidate we have had on the programme so far. He picked it up quite quickly, within two weeks, where we normally expect candidates to take around four weeks.

“He’s been very easy to liaise and communicate with and he’s one of the few people who has understood the potential and opportunity that is being presented here.”

Steve Hawkes, co-founder of The Developer Society, is encouraging other businesses to get involved with the programme.

“We’re really excited about creating opportunities for people who might not have had this opportunity before, and we’re excited about Rashiid’s future and how hopefully this might progress for him. We are happy to be as much a part of it as we can be,” he said.