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Press release

Trafigura Work & Learn Center participates in White House event aiming to create tech jobs

On 20 April 2015, the first White House ‘Tech Meet-Up’ event brought together more than 150 business and community leaders, coders, designers, entrepreneurs and funders from across the US to share and exchange ideas about promoting entrepreneurship, economic development, and innovation. Trafigura Foundation partner, YEP – which stands for Youth Empowerment Project – was invited to share it experience training young people in digital media and design. YEP runs the Trafigura Work & Learn (W&L) Center in New Orleans.

The aim of the gathering at the White House was to further President Obama’s ‘TechHire Initiative’, an undertaking launched in 2015 to find and train workers for 500,000 open jobs in technology in the US. Through the Trafigura-sponsored Work & Learn Center in New Orleans, YEP runs many activities to empower youth and make them more employable, among which a bicycle repair shop. Since 2014, it has also been delivering digital design and web development classes.


Tech skills open up the way to careers

In these classes, students focus on design and creative solutions including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, video editing, and social media. Thanks to a partnership with Operation, YEP is also able to offer a web development curriculum. Operation Spark is an organisation dedicated to providing underserved New Orleans youth with a direct route to careers in web development; their developers teach W&L students the basics of website and app development including video game and mobile app creation. Participants also become literate in Javascript, CSS, HTML5 and other computer languages used to build websites and develop functionality.

 “Combined, all these skills and software knowledge make for a very interesting package in today’s increasingly tech- and web-driven job market. An added plus is that this instruction mimics the way software developers work and is designed to put these young people on a pathway to success in the computer coding field.”

A day to remember

The YEP team’s visit to the White House was a great success. Harvey Sanders, Assistant Director of the Trafigura Work & Learn Center, comments on his once-in-a-lifetime experience:

“My participation in the first ever White House ‘Tech Meet-Up’ was incredibly inspiring. I got to meet a lot of amazing people who are doing innovative things around the country. Half the attendees were Tech Meet-Up organisers and the rest were a mix of city government officials, developers, community organisers, educators and more. (…) One of the main things we talked about was how to encourage companies to invest in hiring people without formal training or certificates. We discussed a lot of potential solutions, including how best to show employers that by not hiring from this pool of potential employees, they are missing out on untapped talent and potential that could negatively impact them down the line. Finally, I was also able to share the work of the Youth Empowerment Project and the Trafigura Work & Learn Center.”

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