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Coding Academy in Fundão
City/Region : Municipality of Fundão , Portugal

The Transformative Action of Fundão is about reprogramming lives by learning coding. The action relates to the need for knoweldge of how to read and write code - a skill that can be as important as knowing how to speak English. Fundão has developed a Coding Academy. The objective of the project is to innovate by tackling challenges of unemployment with more skills and more competitiveness. An innovative approach has been implemented, consisting of bootcamps, with a duration of 14 weeks, 650 hours. At the end of the bootcamp there is a guaranteed 100% employment rate for participants after three months.

Agendas addressed
Local economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Support open data standards
Context
Municipality of Fundão/Learning Coding in the Coding Academy of Fundão

Portugal needs 15,000 new IT engineers by 2020. Fundão IT will create more than 300 jobs and for the time being there are around 120,000 unemployed graduates.
The municipality of Fundão has focused its strategy, mainly since 2013, on attracting investment and creating jobs.

Fundão is a low density territory but it has aimed for and reached a reference position in what concerns attracting investment and capturing talents. This region is characterised by  desertification, and the Coding Academy will attract more professional people, providing them with opportunities. This is a project with growth and replication potential that has received more than 700 applications from Portugal and abroad having consolidated Fundão as an attractive destination for young people and professionals.

This has indeed been a transformative action that allowed Fundão to be distinguished as a reference for everyone who wants to learn coding and to have a (IT) job.

In Action
Municipality of Fundão/Learning Coding in the Coding Academy of Fundão

The transformative action arises from the path that has been designed by the municipality at several levels such as:

  • Development of an Innovation Plan
  • Creation of the Living Lab of Cova da Beira: with cooperation between public and private entities
  • Development and implementation of an urban incubator for enterprises and businesses through the rehabilitation of vacant or underutilised public buildings
  • Promoting urban regeneration and providing benefits to attract people and enterprises to the city center
  • Creation of the Home-Office concept providing a place for young residents and entrepreneurs to live and work in order to enable investment and jobs creation in Fundão

In this context 500 new jobs were created in the IT sector, in companies that have invested in Fundão and that are hiring candidates with high technological skills. These companies include: Altran; Pcmedic; ReadinessIT; InovaPrime; LogicalisSMC; Follow Inspiration; WinTrust; Psiengine; InCentea; Communities; BaG Consulting; and Cleverti.

In Fundão, the experience from the last three years has allowed us to conclude that this territory has very competitive and distinctive advantages for this type of investment. From the 500 new workers, more than 200 have come from other regions and abroad to work at companies in Fundão. By the contact maintained with the companies it has been identified that Fundão needs, by the end of 2017, at least 300 new professionals in the IT sector, preferably with skills in programming languages.

The main impact at the territory level has translated, surely, in the reinforcement of the attractiveness of Fundão to capture companies and professionals. Today it is no longer Fundão that reaches out to the companies, but the companies that look for the competitive advantages of investing, working and living in Fundão. For the companies it is clear that the Coding Academy comes as a recruitment possibility that allows them to grow and reach new projects to be developed in Fundão. Another output is that the implementation of the bootcamps will take into account the specific needs of the companies.

Results
Municipality of Fundão/Learning Coding in the Coding Academy of Fundão

The transformative action of Fundão, the Coding Academy, has been developed around the coding bootcamps. The application and attendance to the bootcamps is free and if by the end of the bootcamp the student is not transitioning to an IT company, payment is not requied.

For the first bootcamps 700 applications were received from Portugal and abroad. In the end only 36 “code cadets” were selected, with an average age of 29 years old, 19 of which were graduates and 17 of which had no higher degree.

With these bootcamps it has been possible to reinforce the current indicators which were:

  • Integration of 98 properties in the Home-Office concept
  • Promotion of urban rehabilitation: about 40% of the properties were made available, after construction, with an average investment of 10,000€
  • Promoting the fund aimed at rehabilitating properties in the historic center with a budget of 50,000€/year/edition

500 direct jobs were created with the Academy and it is estimated that an additional 100 will be made available as an indirect result of it. From the 36 “code cadets” only 4 are from Fundão, meaning that 32 new residents were attracted. Considering the base salary of €900 by the end of the bootcamp it is estimated that with the succesfull implementation of the project, around 1,080,000€/year will be injected into the local economy.

Impact

The project came to life by understanding the need for talent in ICT: only a small number of programmers and developers were available in the market in relation to the companies’ needs. The high levels of unemployment ultimately meant there was a possibility to have professionals from any area becoming IT developers. From this scenario the planning and implementation of the project was key in order to fulfil this need and also to increase the companies’ competitiveness and the development of the region. The impact of the project has been significant, with the creation of 100 new jobs/year in the ICT sector in Fundão. Considering that this number relates to people that were previously unemployed, it is quite relevant at regional and national level.

The Coding Academy Transformative Action had a great impact on the high unemployment rate of youth, considering the huge availability of employment in the ICT sector, with over 8,000 working places available in Portugal and the projected 15,000 needed by 2020. Currently in Fundão this initiative has also grown into a different level as programming has been available to 50 children between the age 8 and 9 in public schools. Fundão aims at making coding pioneers in order to expand this innovative approach to all schools at a national level.

The impact of the Transformative Action has been at socio-cultural, socio-economic and at technological levels bringing together, without precedent, representatives of the quadruple helix working together towards the overall improvement of our society. This model has allowed the city to sustainably reach:

  • Reinforcement for attracting companies and new talents;
  • Providing opportunities to unemployed in order to improve skills;
  • Increase skills in companies with enhancement of recruitment possibilities;
  • 100% employment rate;
  • Economic sustainability.
Challenges and lessons learned
Municipality of Fundão/Learning Coding in the Coding Academy of Fundão

The challenges of the Transformative Action Coding Academy were mainly related to ensuring sustainability, ensuring availability of companies to receive the students and coordinating different details together (between private and public sectors) in order to have smooth implementation, commitment and involvement. The lessons learned relate to the potential of growth and replication of the project, and also the vision towards new possibilities such as coding for children.

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