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These are the digital professions that foster a better future for people with disabilities | Training | Economy

Born to a Russian father and an English mother, Anna Romanovskiy arrived in Spain in the summer of 2001, where she began working as an English and Russian translator, interpreter and teacher. Until, in March 2020, the school where she had worked for seven years in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) closed its doors as a result of the pandemic, and she became unemployed. Romanovskiy (who is 52 years old and is from Voronezh, Russia) suffers from a visual impairment with added complications (he is unable to perceive volumes and in low light he does not distinguish colors, among other difficulties), a condition that opened doors for him to turn your career around and train as a Java developer full-stack thanks to the program By Digital Talent of Fundación ONCE and its two associations, Inserta Empleo and Inserta Innovación. Created in 2019, this initiative aims to improve the employability of people with disabilities and enable them to develop their professional career in an area of ​​high demand such as that related to new technologies.

The numbers are conclusive: in 2021 alone, 803 training actions were carried out throughout Spain, with more than 95,000 hours and a total of 5,314 students completed. “The training we carry out is mainly of two types: on the one hand, in basic digital skills, with the support of the European Social Fund; and on the other, in specialized skills in areas such as programming, data or digital marketing”, says Mónica Cadenas, director of Por Talento Digital. “We have data analysis with Python, for example; an itinerary in Digital Marketing and Communication; or java full-stack, with two courses running at the same time, face-to-face and remote, so that people from all over Spain can access”. It is, he points out, a training catalog that from this year will also include other areas such as robotization, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and even the audiovisual field, with two itineraries in video and sound editing and collaboration with production companies, so that provide internships and job opportunities.

Job placement is precisely one of the pillars on which this professional training initiative rests, thanks to the support they receive from Inserta Empleo when it comes to establishing links with the business world to carry out curricular internships and generate job offers. : “For example, 90% of all the people who have finished the programming courses have a job or are currently in internships. The insertion level is high and there is a lot of demand, so we hope that this will continue in the future”, says Cadenas. The duration of the different training itineraries varies a lot from one to another, but completing them successfully “implies being already employable in a technical profession, normally at a junior level”, she adds.

Mónica Cadenas, director of the For Digital Talent program of the ONCE Foundation.
Mónica Cadenas, director of the For Digital Talent program of the ONCE Foundation.Nacho Meneses Poncio

Possessing previous knowledge is not an essential requirement, since to access this training, only an evaluation of logical-mathematical skills is necessary (in addition to accrediting disability): “In the group, approximately half of the people have already done programming or comes from other courses. But, for those who didn’t, they gave us reinforcement classes that were very useful to us”, explains Romanovskiy, who despite the difficulty enjoys, above all, what is related to data and programming architecture. The case of Mar Almagro (51 years old, Madrid), also a student from Java full-stack, it is something different because, despite lacking experience in the sector, she was familiar with it: she started a diploma in Computer Science, which she left with four subjects to go; and she has kept in touch with the world of programming thanks to courses on-line and MOOCs on platforms like Coursera and EdX. But he lacked any qualifications to guarantee the education he received: “I had neither qualifications nor experience. And it is that, no matter how much knowledge I have, I have worked as a telemarketer, administrative, in hospitality… And age, of course, also has an influence”, she affirms.

Almagro, to whom some complications derived from a spinal operation caused various spinal cord injuries (such as a loss of strength and functionality on the right side and lack of vision in the left eye), had just completed some practices corresponding to the higher degree of FP in Administration and Finance when covid-19 broke out. “I came to this training through the foundation’s employment exchange, and it is thanks to them that I have had my last jobs,” he acknowledges. The program, of 900 hours (and another 300 internships), represents the hope of finally being able to fulfill his dream of finally dedicating himself to programming: “In addition, the professor has a lot of work experience and knows what companies are going to ask us , so we will arrive with the professional tools that are used today.”

Scholarships and aid for training

Not only is it a 100% funded initiative; The foundation also offers a series of additional aids for students who need it: “For example, in the case of face-to-face training, they can access aid for conciliation or transportation, which are adapted according to the case; and for virtual training, if they need to update any technology or solve any technical deficiency at home”, illustrates Cadenas. “And then we have a permanent call for scholarships for those people with disabilities who want to study in a digital technical field at any training center. There we support them with up to 80% of the registration fee, and with a maximum of 10,000 euros per person”, he adds.

One of the recipients of the transport aid is precisely Gonzalo Abad, a 28-year-old who lives in Ciudad Real and who travels every day to the Por Talento Digital facilities in Madrid to complete training in Digital Marketing and Communication (from 600 hours and 150 practices). Abad, who suffers from a visual disability, is also finishing a medium degree in Microcomputer Systems and Networks, training that he has been combining with other courses such as one on entrepreneurship that he has done thanks to the Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Ciudad Real (AJE) . “When I started studying computer science, I opted for the marketing sector because I saw that there were many opportunities, and thanks to this course I will be able to offer that knowledge to companies that give us that opportunity,” he explains.

In the new facilities of Por Talento Digital, inaugurated in November 2021 on Calle Fray Luis de León in Madrid, accessibility plays a fundamental role: not only physically, but also technically and at work. “If the training is virtual, we always look for it to be accessible, and that it allows screen readers, for example, for blind people. On a physical level, it is a center with great accessibility, which adapts to each student. There are people with reduced mobility for whom we provide chairs or tables in a certain way; there are also sign language interpreters; screens for people with low vision; braille language in different areas of the center; the signage on the ground, in the classrooms…”, says Cadenas. And then there is job accessibility: “Unfortunately, not all professions are 100% accessible, and that is another line of work of the foundation. Now we are going to launch a programming training for blind people, who may have it more complicated in the most visual part, of the front end, but nevertheless they can be very good in the back-end, the back, like any other programmer.”

Incorporation into the labor market

In all training, explains Cadenas, there are certain transversal issues that have to do with the so-called soft skills or soft skills, and that facilitate job search and incorporation into the world of work: communication, empathy, creativity, knowing how to face an interview, teamwork, problem and conflict resolution… And, of course, accessibility: “Depending on the field and to a greater or lesser extent, we train them to become professionals concerned with accessibility in their particular field. For example, in the programmers, so that they know how to program in an accessible way; and in the people who use social networks, so that the deliverables you publish are accessible”, says Cadenas.

In this race for employability, another of the actors that plays an important role is the Inserta Forum, an entity that facilitates the necessary business communication to promote the labor inclusion of people with disabilities, and not only in relation to digital talent: “ Throughout the year, they work with them so that the employment that these companies can generate takes people with disabilities into account, in such a way that they reserve a percentage of those jobs for them,” he explains. José Alías, head of communication at the ONCE Foundation.

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