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June 29, 2017

IT graduates looking forward to promising jobs in Iraq

In the last week of April, 28 students came together to celebrate their graduation from Re:coded, a vocational education and training programme in Iraqi Kurdistan. Proud families and friends attended the ceremony to support their loved ones and mark the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of these talented students.

The graduates come from different walks of life. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Syrian refugees and local youth, all come together, to learn about programming, coding and software development. Over the course of the past year (2016-2017) they learned, experienced, failed and succeeded together.  

For over 230,000 Syrian refugees and some 3.5 million IDPs living in Iraq, receiving an IT degree, means winning the lottery in the job market. The Re:Coded graduation certificates are approved and stamped by the Iraqi Ministry of Labour. This guarantees legal jobs for the graduates in local and international IT companies.

For these students, studying to become a computer programmer and sometimes having to support a family at the same time is a tall order, but some of them are pulling it off. Some others are lucky enough to be hired internally, by Re:Coded, applying their skills and knowledge to the source of their learning. But what is expected is for most of these students to get promising jobs within a few months from their graduation.

Re:Coded equips refugees and vulnerable youth in conflict affected areas with fundamental coding skills and professional experience that together create access to careers in technology. It is initiated by UNDP and jointly run by New York University (NYU) and SPARK. Representatives from UNDP, NYU, the Ministry of Education, and SPARK also attended the graduation ceremony to support the students.

SPARK managed to have a short talk with one of the graduates. Nour Suliman, 30,is an Iraqi applicant of Re:Coded and currently hired by them. He shared his journey in an interview with SPARK:

Nour, already a graduate in Management Information System (MIS) from Amman, returns home not knowing what the future holds for him as a career. Always interested in information technology and holding a relevant degree, he starts to search for jobs in his own fields. After a few months of knocking on every door, he decides to temporarily work for airlines and sales. Not interested in those activities, however, he keeps an eye out for any IT related job opportunity. Until he comes across SPARK: “I saw the opportunity with SPARK and decided to give it a try. My brother encouraged me to apply, because he got his dream job after he enrolled in a similar programme in the U.S.”

Nour says his experience with Re:Coded was a nice one. “I learned new skills. I was amazed by the amount of support that mentors offered to us.” Currently, he is working on creating a website similar to Craigslist as he feels that Iraq needs an online platform devoted to linking demands and offers of the job market. Amazingly enough, he is also a Project Coordinator at Re:coded, working on a coding boot camp for teenagers.

“My goal is to be a freelancer. I can stay in Iraq and work remotely for big international companies as a programme developer. In order to achieve this, I need to work hard toady and gain as much experience as I can.” 

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