Innovative Practice 2021 on Inclusive Employment and ICT

Technology centres offering accessible training in digital skills and career support

The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit organization affiliated to the Organization of American States (OAS). It promotes socioeconomic inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 2013, it has partnered with Microsoft and an Argentinian NGO to run POETA DigiSpark, a programme offering accessible digital skills training, mentoring, and career development. Over 1,200 people have accessed work and educational opportunities such as internships, jobs, and further study through the programme.

“Thanks to POETA DigiSpark’s training and mentorship, I was encouraged to study software development.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:POETA DigiSpark
Organisation:The Trust for the Americas
Country
of Implementation
Argentina
Start Year2013
Sub-CategoryA project of Civil Society

FACTS & FIGURES

  • From 2013 to 2019, more than 4,000 participants have been trained (2019: 800+; 2018: 700+; 2017: 500+)
  •  There have been some 200,000 visits to POETA DigiSpark technology centres (2020: seven centres; 2013: five centres)

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Argentina’s education system does not equip students with disabilities with the skills needed to compete in a modern labour market.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

POETA DigiSpark offers free and accessible online and in-person training in technical, digital, and life skills in its technology centres. These centres offer sign language interpreters and assistive technology, and partner with potential employers to ensure that participants are trained in skills that are in demand locally.
In addition, participants receive career guidance and mentoring, and are linked to potential employers. Employers, for their part, must guarantee at least minimum wage and benefits.

POETA DigiSpark has trained over 4,000 people in Argentina. Between 2017 and 2019, there was a 60 per cent increase in the number of people trained and a 25 per cent increase in the number of people supported to take up opportunities such as internships, jobs, self-employment, or starting formal education.

The programme also promotes inclusive employment practices among employers, including the adoption of assistive technologies.

A young woman sits at a computer with her hands on the keyboard. Her head is turned slightly to smile at the camera.

A student engages in training at a POETA DigiSpark technology centre.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

The Trust for the Americas has a wide portfolio of donors – from the public and private sectors and from multilateral organizations. POETA DigiSpark has been executed in Argentina since 2013 through a grant from Microsoft Philanthropies. Aligned with Microsoft’s Global Skilling Initiative, the project will grow within the country in 2021.

Since April 2020, the programme is increasingly shifting towards a virtual training model and adapting its content for accessible online use.

POETA DigiSpark is already being implemented with local partners across Latin America, targeting other vulnerable groups such as at-risk youth and refugees. Its centres in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico focus on persons with disabilities.

FACTSHEET

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