Did you know that Spain is one of the hardest-hit countries of the pandemic? Many of the millions of jobs lost will not be available again due to automation and new technologies — a problem that will challenge individuals with disabilities more, since their digital skills gap was already wider pre-pandemic. We believe this is the moment for action to support workers whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic and create opportunities for them to pursue careers in fields with strong long-term prospects.
That is why we at General Assembly and Fundación Adecco are incredibly proud to have partnered and reskilled 15 individuals with disabilities into software engineers.
According to Dolores García Autero, Fundación Adecco’s CFO, “The digital revolution is sharply increasing the demand for tech professionals; in our country, however, there is a deficit of such profiles. Through this program, we aim to contribute to closing the skills gap while, at the same time, increasing the presence of people with disabilities in tech roles, where they are currently underrepresented.”
The “Tecnología y Discapacidad” report published by the Fundación Adecco and Keysight Technologies Spain shows that:
- 45% of individuals with disabilities find barriers to entry in new technologies.
- 32% say the reason is due to lack of accessibility features
- 16% report simply not having the resources to acquire new technology.
- Over 70% of individuals surveyed believe the pandemic will prevent them from finding employment.
By offering GA’s 3-month full-time Software Engineering Immersive (SEI) course to these individuals, our goal was to equip them with the skills needed to pursue a profession with excellent long-term prospects and increase accessibility awareness in software and web solutions through the work of our graduates.
“This has been, by far the most intense learning experience I’ve ever had, and a true mental and physical challenge. I barely knew what HTML was and, after only three months, I can now consider myself a developer! To say that I am proud of my achievement would be an understatement. A whole professional future has opened up to me where I can succeed regardless of my motor impairment.” —Ismael Gonzalez, SEI graduate
Taught and adapted by Pedro Martín, a trained pedagogue and SEI graduate himself, the course was General Assembly’s first social impact initiative in Europe — and the first program delivered entirely in Spanish. According to Pedro, more than the sheer happiness of teaching in Spanish and being able to give back to the community, the course opened his eyes to how “disabilities can be superpowers.”
“We had students who had difficulties with their manual dexterity. It wasn’t easy for them to type on a keyboard, so they took their time to just think about what the best code to type would be, instead of just trial and error. This approach made them very thoughtful members of the group, and they showed the rest of us how the economy of keystrokes can make an impact on how we developed software.”
In addition to learning the key foundational skills in class, students then developed four projects:
- A React application, consisting of 2 APIs.
- A MERN (Mongo, Express, React, Node) stack application.
- A PERN (PostgreSQL, Express, React, Node) stack application.
All are now walking away from the program with new skills and a portfolio of work to showcase to potential employers.
The job search process is being aided by Fundación Adecco, which is providing career coaching and networking opportunities. In less than two months after graduation, the candidates have been interviewed by an average of five companies — and four individuals have already accepted a job offer!
We are eager to watch these new tech professionals thrive and look forward to following their robust careers. At the same time, we remain committed to creating partnerships and programs that enable affordable and accessible education, contribute to a diverse tech talent pipeline, and promote social mobility through careers in tech.