Armenia’s Youth and the Tragedy of Untapped Potential

On May 30, ONEArmenia, a for-purpose organization focused on building a sustainable Armenian economy, launched a new campaign to accelerate the development of engineering labs throughout Armenia. The project is called “Hye Tech Kids,” and its goals are ambitious.

OneArmenia has launched a new campaign to accelerate the development of engineering labs throughout Armenia. The project is called 'Hye Tech Kids,' and its goals are ambitious. (Photo: OneArmenia)
ONEArmenia has launched a new campaign to accelerate the development of engineering labs throughout Armenia. The project is called ‘Hye Tech Kids,’ and its goals are ambitious. (Photo: ONEArmenia)

In the past six years, the IT industry in Armenia has been growing by an average of 22 percent annually. The IT sector now employs more than 15,000 people, accounts for 5 percent of the country’s GDP, and is a solid bet in a landlocked country with strong math skills.

These realities, coupled with a few success stories for Armenian companies in the tech world, have caused some to go as far as dubbing Armenia “the Silicon Valley of the Caucasus”.

 

3,000 Vacancies and the Tragedy of Untapped Potential

While the country is struggling with high labor migration and an unemployment rate of 18.5 percent, sources indicate that there may be as many as 3,000 vacancies in the IT sector today.

“There is so much untapped potential,” says Patrick Sarkissian, ONEArmenia’s founder. “While IT firms are hiring, hundreds of young people leave Armenia every year to find work abroad.”

The problem is straightforward enough: Armenia’s IT sector has, in fact, grown so fast that now there is a lack of qualified workers to fill in the vacancies.

 

Bring Labs to Schools, and the Brightest Kids to IT

“Hye Tech Kids” is a program that will bring the latest technologies to classrooms in rural Armenia, and give every kid a fair chance.

ONEArmenia, in partnership with The Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) will equip five schools with Armath labs, a made-in-Armenia engineering lab that includes a 3D printer, CNC devices, handmade mini-computers, a robot kit, and two educational coding programs.

The $57,882 raised via ONEArmenia will also be used to train and deploy coaches to each lab with the mission to teach, accompany, and inspire the kids who attend the after-school club. “Attendance isn’t mandatory,” explains Anna Sargsyan, project coordinator at UITE. “But the overwhelming majority of students who come once, come back for more.”

A prototype of this program was implemented from 2008 to present by UITE, and has proven to be successful with 500 graduates to date, 70 percent of whom are now working, or continuing their education in the IT field.

The curriculum is designed so that students are directly employable once they graduate. “Teenagers who attend for 3 or 4 years already acquire enough technical knowledge to find entry-level jobs in the IT sphere,” explains Anna Sargsyan from UITE. “And those who choose to study STEM related fields at university benefit from a big head start.”

 

From Potential to Growth

By connecting children and teenagers with the resources they need to work in IT, ONEArmenia and UITE capitalize on Armenia’s greatest asset: its brain power. To help them bring the latest tech tools to rural schools, and the brightest kids to the IT sector, check out their campaign, and donate, by visiting www.onearmenia.org/campaign.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.
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1 Comment

  1. I hesitated in responding to the claims made in this article. Was it better to let people think there are 3000 IT positions available in Armenia or shed light on similar claims made in the US? I decided on the latter. There are not 3000 IT positions available in Armenia. We would be lucky if there were 300. One need only glance at job sites in Armenia to verify this. Many IT executives in the US, especially seen on financial TV channels, claim there are not enough qualified IT people to fill openings. Translated into reality means there are not enough IT people who will work for less than $50K/year with highly specific skills. In reality, there are plenty of IT professionals in the US who have the necessary skills but refuse to have their paychecks cut in half. In the US there is a glut in IT workers allowing the prevailing employment situation to be dictated by owners. The same story is told in Armenia but with a twist. Sure, even I would start a firm in Armenia if highly qualified programmers would work for $50/week undercutting the rest of the world. The 3000 figure is fictitious.

    Just as in the US, IT firms in Armenia would prefer dictating the training university graduates receive, making their employment at these IT firms seamless, saving owners time and money. The real tragedy is when IT firms have ready-made employees graduating from universities, coming at the cost of a well-rounded education. A well-rounded education would allow theses graduates employability once the IT firm-specific technology fades away.

    David Davidian
    Adjunct Lecturer
    American University of Armenia

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