An initiative that incentivizes youths and adults to get involved in computer programming
Argentina’s 111K program, launched in 2016, has the objective of training, in the next four years, 100,000 programmers, 10,000 professionals and 1,000 entrepreneurs. A challenging number. The initiative promotes the education and employment of young people and adults across the country in the field of information technology services. This is a very laudable objective, because Argentina, like many countries, is struggling to meet the demand for individuals with technical skills. Indeed, when we started Belatrix, finding a qualified workforce was one of our biggest challenges, and hiring highly qualified software engineers remains a top priority for us.
I want to therefore give our perspective on the 111K program so far. What is working, and where we believe it can improve.
The initiative is undoubtedly very ambitious and to date, as Matt Kendall, from Nearshore Americas, points out in his recent article, it has not reached the numbers of graduates it had hoped for. Despite thousands of people who have registered for the program, the “funnel effect” is strong and a low percentage make it to the end. Carlos Pallotti, former Undersecretary of the Production Ministry, said that last year the program started with 30,000 registrants, from which 10,000 finished their courses and 2,000 approved the final exam.
Despite these relatively low numbers, I continue to believe in the potential of the program. It has already contributed to some inspiring stories, such as that of Matías Aporta, one of the graduates of the 111K program. Before starting at Belatrix, Matías had different jobs, including being a dog groomer, but it was not easy to make a living. However, his desire to learn about the world of programming, took him to complete his studies in the program, and he is now working in our offices in Mendoza. He is working in our quality assurance (QA) department and is very enthusiastic. I’m delighted to welcome him to the Belatrix family, and it’s great to see someone successfully change careers.
One of the most positive aspects of the program, is the opportunity it provides to people who have struggled to find permanent, long-term employment in their chosen sector. The 111K program opens a window for people who come from different backgrounds, and where there are perhaps fewer employment opportunities in their current sector. It provides the chance to enter an industry with many opportunities for professional and personal growth.
The program is helping to improve gender diversity in technology
Another key element of the 111K program is the inclusion of women in the IT sector. Although there have been improvements regarding gender disparity, unfortunately there remain prejudices and stereotypes. For this reason, the 111K program includes a gender angle, which aims to encourage women to get involved in technology and bring down the idea of computer programming as a career for men. One of the strategies to inspire women to enter the tech world, is to show how other women are successful in the sector.
For this reason, the 111K program held the “Mujeres111mil” (Women 111K) event, in Buenos Aires, in order to inform young women about the possibilities that the program offers, as well as the job opportunities in technology. In addition, they had the chance to meet female entrepreneurs, who shared their experiences, such as Martina Santoro, founder and CEO of the OKAM STUDIO and president of the Association of Video Game Developers of Argentina (ADVA).
Statistics show that the program is helping to close the gender gap. In Argentina, the number of women involved in tech careers ranges from 20% to 25%. However, in the 111K program this percentage is higher; from 48,000 people enrolled so far, 17,000 are women, which is almost 36%.
How the 111K program could further improve
Although we have seen some inspiring stories, the overall number of people involved in the program remains relatively low. This is due to numerous factors – for example, many people have to travel long distances to attend classes and some of them are studying and working at the same time, which makes it difficult to manage the workload. Others enroll in the program without knowing exactly what is it they will find, and once the course begins, they realize it is not what they expected.
I believe further investment in webinars and online training could help some of these challenges. In addition, it’s clear that people need for personalized training (for example depending on their prior knowledge of technology), and in many cases the program should assign mentors to help them make the career change.
Meeting just a fraction of its objectives, will still be a success
The objectives of the 111K program are unprecedented. The project is ambitious and visionary, and although the number of graduates so far is not what we originally hoped for, it is slowly helping to provide new job opportunities. It provides a way for people to get their first experience with a career in technology. Importantly, it has also focused on trying to mitigate the gender disparity in the industry.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the program continues, and hope that it further improves. We’re already planning to hire more individuals in Buenos Aires from the program in the coming weeks and months.
Interested in the 111K program? Find out more at https://www.argentina.gob.ar/111mil
If you’re already part of the program, then make sure to contact us via http://www.belatrixsf.com/work-with-us