Foundation aims to teach IT skills to veterans, people forced to flee war

A program to reskill people displaced from eastern Ukraine by Russia’s war is gearing up to start this month, with the organizers planning to train future specialists for the country’s burgeoning IT sector.

The BrainBasket Foundation and telecoms provider Vodafone Ukraine (formerly MTS Ukraine) started registering candidates for the technical education program, called Coding for the Future, one month ago. Lessons are free for internally displaced people as well as veterans of the war in eastern Ukraine.

The main aim of the three-month program is to set up a training pipeline that will produced qualified specialists ready to take up jobs in Ukrainian IT companies. Registration should be completed by the end of October, organizers say.

BrainBasket and Vodafone Ukraine will then launch free lessons in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk. The students will study JavaScript, PHP, and C#, which are currently the programming languages most in demand in the IT jobs market.

BrainBasket Director Vladimir Liulka says the program will give internally displaced people a real chance to improve their lives.

“The (program’s) goal is to attract attention to the problems of internally displaced people, and show that the best help for them now is to give them the chance to improve their lives by dint of hard but convenient work,” Liulka told the Kyiv Post. “The IT sphere can provide that. Our modest role is to give people the opportunity to get a good quality education (in an area) that’s in demand.”

International support

ITEC, an EU-funded program to introduce technology in schools, and U.S. software company Intersog are teaming up with the BrainBasket Foundation to provide premises in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk in which to hold programming classes, Liulka said. Vodafone Ukraine is to provide classroom space in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

BrainBasket anticipates that from two thousand to three thousand people will apply for a place on the Coding for the Future program – far more people than there are places available. A selection process will be used to whittle down the numbers.

“When the selection and interviews are done, we’re planning to teach 200 students. That means approximately 15 groups of 13 to 15 students,” Liulka said.

The Ukrainian Economy Ministry, Kyiv City State Administration and local IT-market players launched the BrainBasket Foundation in April 2014 to finance free training courses for those who wish to study programming. Coding for the Future is only one of several projects the foundation has launched.

Training 100,000 tech specialists in 5 years

Via the Coding for the Future program, BrainBasket plans to train up to 100,000 tech specialists by the end of this decade, boosting the $2 billion local IT industry by 10 times.

“About 100,000 new IT specialists, the number we said when we started BrainBasket – that’s the number that we want to reach by 2020,” Liulka told the Kyiv Post. In future the program won’t be open just to internally displaced persons and veterans, but for anyone who wants to learn to program.

But whether or not BrainBasket reaches that goal will depend on how the conflict in Ukraine develops, and whether the economy manages to recover from the war in the east. The results of last year’s Coding for the Future program were disappointing, according to Liulka, with only 30 percent of those who finished the courses landing jobs in the IT sector.

“It was due to the condition of the market, which didn’t develop so rapidly – for understandable reasons,” Liulka said.

“But now we’re looking forward to teaching the programming languages that are in most demand. We’re sure we’ll get better results.”

The Kyiv Post’s IT coverage is sponsored by AVentures CapitalLooksery, and SoftServe.

Topics: Labor & HR issues, News, Regions
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