September 5, 2023

630 young professionals kick off their tech journey through the Palestine Launchpad programme with Google 

Google, SPARK, and Udacity celebrated the launch of the Palestine Launchpad programme and the enrollment of 650  young professionals. The first community event, attended by over 200 participants in Gaza and the West Bank, featured a panel discussion titled ‘Building a Successful Career Path in AI, Web Development, or Data Analysis. 

SPARK recently celebrated a major achievement with the enrollment of 650  young professionals in the Palestine Launchpad Programme with Google. This pioneering initiative spans three years, and is specifically designed to empower Palestinian youth by equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the ever-changing digital landscape. The programme’s primary objective is to equip 3500 Palestinians with programming, data science and AI skills, and offer mentorship and job opportunities

By leveraging the expertise and resources of Google, SPARK, and Udacity, the program strives to ignite and support the tech ecosystem in Palestine around three key pillars; capacity building, mentorship and employment matching.

The three-year programme offers participants access to a world-class curriculum, mentorship, and hands-on projects, enabling them to gain in-demand skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, data science, web development, and more. The programme aims to cultivate a supportive community that encourages collaboration, networking, and knowledge exchange among participants, mentors, and industry professionals. 

Najeeb Jarrar, Regional Marketing Director for Google in MENA, said: “We are committed to helping Palestinian graduates, app developers and tech entrepreneurs with the digital skills they need to succeed and to facilitate access to jobs and employment. Google has long been supporting Palestinians through digital skills initiatives like Maharat min Google, Coursera licenses / Google Career Certificates. We’ve also worked in collaboration with global and local partners like Udacity, SPARK, Kiva, Amideast, Gaza Sky Geeks and others.”

“The Palestine Launchpad program with Google is dedicated to enhancing the digital skills of young professionals in Palestine, ensuring that participants remain up-to-date with the rapid advancements in the tech industry, while also granting them access to employment opportunities that enable them to apply their acquired skills effectively.” Dina Almasaeid, Country Manager at SPARK Palestine.  

Localisation and high demand

Aligned with SPARK’s 2030 strategy, the implementation of the Palestine Launchpad Programme with Google will be carried out in collaboration with local partners in the Palestinian territories, namely GGateway in Gaza and Intersect Innovation Hub in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In early April, the application process for the first cohort was initiated. SPARK ensured broad outreach and consistent communication, effectively disseminating messages and encouraging individuals interested in the programme to participate. As a result, over 2,000 applicants sought to join the Palestine Launchpad with Google.  

Community event and panel discussion 

On June 10th, a community event organised by the Palestine Launchpad programme with Google, in collaboration with SPARK and Udacity, successfully took place in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This event served as a remarkable opportunity for students and mentors to interact and exchange knowledge. A notable panel discussion was held, focusing on exploring the wide range of opportunities, challenges, and strategies involved in building successful careers in AI, web development, and data analysis.

The panel discussion ‘Building a Successful Career Path in AI, Web Development, or Data Analysis’ discussed the difficulties faced by Palestinians who want to pursue careers in these fields, such as limited access to resources, networking opportunities, and recognition. The panel hosted several prominent experts in the fields, including Dr. Mona Dmeidi, Assistant Professor and PhD in AI from An-Najah National University; Basma Ali, Chief Executive Director of GGateway and Dr. Motaz Saad, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Data Science, as well as an AI consultant. 

The panelists will also discussed the current opportunities in the tech industry for Palestinian students both locally and globally.  In addition, the panelists emphasized the significance of networking and active community engagement as key factors for professional growth. They shared practical insights on effectively connecting with industry professionals and organizations, offering valuable tips for building meaningful connections.  

Central to the event were captivating keynote speeches and networking activities, which provided valuable insights and inspiration for aspiring tech professionals. In Gaza, students actively participated virtually during the first half of the event. Despite the physical distance, the atmosphere remained vibrant as participants eagerly connected with their peers and mentors. Following the conclusion of the keynote speeches and panel discussions, Gaza students engaged in networking sessions facilitated by a dedicated representative. These sessions mirrored the activities occurring in the West Bank, ensuring that all participants had equal opportunities to connect, learn, and grow.

The community event stood as a testament to the transformative power of the Palestine Launchpad programme. It provided a dynamic space for participants to forge meaningful connections, gain valuable insights, and explore the exciting possibilities within the tech industry. By bringing together students, mentors, and industry experts, the program reinforced its commitment to empowering individuals and nurturing a vibrant tech ecosystem in Palestine.

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