Diversifying Amsterdam’s tech scene

A new action programme has been launched to help increase equal opportunities and diversity in Amsterdam’s tech sector. Created by the Amsterdam Economic Board, Rabobank, Booking.com, TomTom and the CA-ICT education fund, TechConnect will unite companies, schools, universities and government organisations from the Amsterdam Area in several initiatives.

It aims to help 50,000 people from underrepresented groups establish careers in the tech industry, training women and men of all ages and backgrounds to become tech administrators, coders, data analysts, growth hackers and UX designers. As tech is playing a central role across all sectors and levels of education, it will also help to train the next generation of skilled workers in Amsterdam who can fill these positions. 

The Amsterdam Economic Board believes the programme can also help alleviate shortages of tech professionals that could hamper the growth of the local economy. Currently, Amsterdam’s tech sector includes more than 700 companies which employ almost 52,000 people, and its FinTech sector alone has seen a 35% growth in jobs since 2017. However, positions that fall outside this sphere increasingly need employees with strong tech skills as well, heightening demand. 

Transforming vulnerable neighbourhoods

In a statement, Viktor Bos and Ruben Nieuwenhuis, programme directors of TechConnect, said: “In the past few months, TechConnect has conducted extensive research to identify obstacles and critical factors that stand in the way of equal opportunities, diversity and inclusivity in the tech sector. This research forms the basis of the action programme, and we have already launched the first initiatives. We want to transform vulnerable neighbourhoods into tech neighbourhoods.”

These initiatives include two new coding schools targeting unemployed young people of all skill levels. In October 2019, MolenGeek (a coding school, co-working space and incubator based in Brussels) will open its first Dutch franchises using the name TechGrounds in Zaanstad Poelenburg and Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West neighbourhood. Additional locations in Rotterdam and other cities in the Netherlands are planned as well.

Committed to training 20,000 employees 

Earlier this year, TechConnect released TekkieWorden, a guide for studying and working which provides an overview of programmes for each of branch of Dutch secondary education along with tech-sector job profiles. It also launched TeachForAmsterdam, a project created through cooperation between schools, businesses and university teacher training programmes that aims to create 300 teachers with informatics skills within four years. 

Additional undertakings are in development, including WorkForce Pact, which provides funding to educate and retrain members of Generation X. As part of this scheme, 20 Amsterdam Area firms have already committed to training a total of 20,000 employees to transform them into data-driven professionals.

On 20 June, the Amsterdam Economic Board will formally announce the TechConnect action programme at State of the Region. Part of the innovation festival WeMakeThe.City, it provides a view of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area in 2025. TechConnect is also seeking new partners and wants to team with organisations in the Amsterdam Area that regularly recruit tech workers or wish to develop their businesses with in-demand tech skills.

Read more business news from around Amsterdam.