Teaching tech skills to connect human potential
“We want to show the people coming here, that ReDI School works!” – these words are from our winning group of students in a hackathon for BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe). They came by for a team meeting in the Berlin office to tell us about their winning idea and to hang their diploma in the office, so that everyone could see their great accomplishment. And it was indeed great to see the pride in their eyes and the passion in their voices, and to know that our work at ReDI School has helped giving these talents the technical skills and the opportunities they need to live up to their greatest potential.
ReDI School of Digital Integration was founded in 2015 by a team convinced that technology can break down barriers and bring people together to build new solutions to old problems. In 2015 and 2016, an estimated total of 1.2 million people arrived in Germany to ask for asylum. Most of them from countries where the perspective of return is limited. Germany therefore has a great need to create hundreds of thousands of jobs to resettle and integrate these refugees who are likely to settle permanently in the country. Refugees have in the past taken low paid and low skilled manual jobs. These jobs are however at risk to be automated. “Future proof” jobs are likely to be in maintenance and programming of machines. The idea of ReDI School was sparked by the insight that amongst the refugee population there are incredible talents eager to learn and eager to contribute, who could help fill the 55.000 open IT jobs in Germany.
From the beginning, ReDI has been developed through co-creation between the Berlin and Munich tech community (incl. SAP, Facebook, Cisco and Microsoft) and the ReDI students. ReDI is run as a non-profit social enterprise offering several 3-months IT and coding courses, creative workshops, tech-talks, innovation projects as well as short term summer courses. The aim is thus to provide students with valuable digital skills as well as a strong network of tech leaders, mentors and alumni to help create new opportunities for all.
ReDI School has achieved tremendous impact thus far, with more than 500 students completing at least one course. The last survey conducted showed that almost 50% of the surveyed students were placed in paid internships or jobs. Furthermore, about 27% joined a university and 8% founded a company. The success stories have resonated with German and international media like CNN, BBC, die Zeit and Süddeutshe Zeitung. Several important visitors like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and (former) USA Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powell have visited ReDI School and exchanged perspectives with the students.
So we truly believe that our unique ReDI School approach works, and so does our students, as the introductory quote shows – but we are constantly working to improve and develop our program to make the biggest possible impact. So please reach out to us if you have ideas, suggestions or wants to engage with us somehow!
Ida Marie Bjerre Jepsen, ReDI Women Program Assistant ReDi School