Alaa Abu Taima is a 26-year-old React JavaScript developer based in Gaza. With a degree in computer science, Alaa joined the six month Career Accelerator at Gaza Sky Geeks Code Academy. Graduating from the seventh cohort, she is now working remotely for the Saudi Arabian company, Faseeh, from an office in Gaza, Palestine. Gaza Sky Geeks Code Academy is supported by the Wehubit programme of Enabel through the project PAL TECH GROWTH focusing on digital skills for educated youth, particulary young women.

Alaa Abu Taima
Alaa Abu Taima focused while writing code (© Gaza Sky Geeks)

TECH HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CHANGE THE FUTURE OF PALESTINE

One of the biggest challenges faced by Palestinians is unemployment. Decades of movement restrictions and the ongoing political situation have limited professional opportunities leaving the unemployment rate in Palestine soaring. Particularly the Gaza Strip is suffering with an estimated 40%+ of the population unemployed, and a staggering 60%+ youth unemployment rate. However, with fiber internet widely available and frequent power cuts and electricity shortages managed with batteries, tech jobs and working remotely has the potential to change the future of Palestinians.

SUPPLYING THEORY WITH PRACTICE INCREASES EMPLOYABILITY

Education in Palestine tends to be based on theory rather than active learning. That is why Alaa decided that she needed to develop her skills further by supplementing her degree in computer science by joining the GSG Code Academy in order to increase her chances of finding work. Through the Career Accelerator, she got the opportunity to improve technical and soft skills, while gaining valuable practical experience through project-based learning, ultimately leading to her landing a job in tech.

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International coaches, alumni mentors and participants during Gaza Sky Geeks workshop (© Gaza Sky Geeks)

CRITICAL THINKING AND PRAGMATIC PROBLEM-SOLVING PREPARES GRADUATES FOR ANYTHING THE FUTURE MIGHT HOLD

“Your mind is a gift. Use it, and things will work out for you. Employers abroad have access to a large pool of candidates within their own countries, but my work and efforts have convinced them to hire me to work for them instead.”

The Career Accelerator has helped Alaa grow and improve her coding skills making her a top-notch programmer, measuring up to international standards. The soft skills training and focus on critical thinking and problem-solving has given Alaa the confidence to successfully manage her work during these challenging times of COVID-19 where life in Gaza has become extra challenging:

“After the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Gaza, curfew was imposed a month ago, and I now work from home like so many others. It has not been an easy thing to manage; especially with the frequent power cuts. I have been very distracted, and I have been working at all hours of the day: early morning and late at night. Despite this, I also feel grateful for the experience, as it has been an opportunity for me to develop my critical thinking, effectiveness and ability to reach conclusions faster. I utilised the power outages to analyse code, so I could focus on writing new code when the power is back on. You have to get your work done at the end of day, and be able to see the possibilities in every struggle. In hardship there is always opportunity. That is how I choose to look at it.”

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Student and teacher during training session at the GSG Code Academy (© Gaza Sky Geeks)
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A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

The Gaza Sky Geeks Code Academy offers a six month Career Accelerator intensive training program, where participants study the most in demand coding languages. The teaching consists of a mix of self-learning, alumni mentorship, international coaches and project-based practical training. With the key focus being employability and the creation of jobs in Palestine, the course also incorporates sessions dedicated to preparing students for the job market through CV-writing workshops and job interview training. With 48% of graduates of the GSG Code academy working in the tech sector - the majority in full time roles - the results speak for themselves. Alaa Abu Taima’s success story is one amongst many.