Future Techies

By on Jun 3, 2019 in Giving

According to the European Commission, after 2020 over 90 percent of jobs will require digital skills. Moreover, 65 percent of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist. To develop their skills for these future occupations, the next generation needs to start preparing as early as possible.

Yardi Cluj teamed up with Dalia’s Book, non-governmental organization (NGO), to host Adopt-a-School!, an educational program that teaches coding skills to tomorrow’s programmers, engineers, support specialists and project managers.

Yardi Cluj + Adopt-a-School!

In 2016, Dalia’s Book set out on an ambitious mission to prepare Romania’s youth for future employment in the tech industry. The organization launched Adopt-a-School!, which pairs schools with local ITC companies like Yardi.

In February of 2019, Yardi Cluj employees joined the Adopt-a-School! league of volunteers. About 30 employees offered to host weekly coding sessions at a local high school, teaching coding skills to three fourth grade classes.

“I decided to volunteer because all future jobs will require a little bit of coding knowledge,” explained Emil Antoni, real estate market analyst at Yardi. “The easiest being Excel and the most complicated being in the field of DNA. Youth need to be prepared.”

“I don’t think it’s essential for children to learn code,” said fellow volunteer Andreea Hosu, technical project leader at Yardi. “But I do believe this is that kind of activity that will open many opportunities in their lives. The children learn basic programming, and the funny thing is that they don’t even realize they’re learning something, because they think they are playing.”

Many of the Yardi Cluj volunteers had not worked in education before. They approached the project with a blend of excitement, nervousness, and determination.

“This was a first for me, so naturally, I was excited and scared at the same time,” laughed Diana Blaj, a real estate market analyst at Yardi. “Then I met 24 extremely smart children with whom I connected in a glimpse of a second. The moment I started teaching them Scratch, everything came naturally. The hours passed by and I saw that we, as a team, managed to actually teach them something!”

Each session is attended by 25-30 students and three to five volunteers. Groups are divided into clubs, each with a different method. Volunteers in the Yardi Scratch Club use the Creative Computing guide developed by the ScratchEd research team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The guide provides a curriculum, but the volunteers decide how to implement each session and bring it to life.

“Every year, we are surprised by the volunteers’ creativity and the way they approach students. They use interactive methods that encourage mistakes and see them as part of the learning process. They help students stay curious, engaged and keen to learn more with each passing hour,” said Adelina Venter, marketing specialist for Dalia’s Book.

At the conclusion of this session, Yardi Cluj will have volunteered over 50 hours of coding and mentoring across the span of 15 weeks. Their efforts help to equip future talent with the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s job market.

Prepared for the Road Ahead

Adopt-a-School! is now in its third edition. The program has worked with over 10 tech companies and 10 schools in six different Romanian cities. More than 100 volunteers have helped 500 elementary school children develop programming skills. The program’s importance extends beyond coding. Even if participating children decide not to pursue jobs that require coding, the skills that they learn through Adopt-a-School! can help in a multitude of ways.

“While programming, children can develop their logical thinking: develop structural thinking patterns, learn to work in teams, do research work by following tutorials, and analyzing other people’s codes. They also learn artistic creativity by express themselves through digital art, and composing music,” said Hilda Fülöp, customer service representative at Yardi. “We can’t know their futures. But we are helping to prepare them for whatever path they may choose.”

Yardi is Energized for Good! Learn more about the philanthropic and volunteer efforts of all of our offices on our Giving page.