Coding and Social Inclusion: What is the common denominator?

It might seem like these two concepts are too far apart. On the one hand, you have a typically considered technical skill and, on the other, a social vision. How do they fit? And why? Coding is a relatively easy skill to learn because its simplicity and structure allow any user to learn the basics of coding in a relatively short period of time. Its language is universal. However, coding is not only a technical but also a soft skill. Through coding, you have the opportunity to gain computational thinking and problem-solving skills and develop your self-confidence and interpersonal skills through cooperation.

In the case of Europe, the 2015 migrant crisis pushed toward that direction to provide migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with coding skills.  Programs initiated during that time were primarily based on the urgent demands of the tech sector and the mismatch found in the labour market. Even though the mismatch is still apparent, the needs have changed once again. They require more advanced technical skills involving cybersecurity, cloud computing, software development, blockchain, and virtual or augmented reality, among others (CareerHigher Team, 2022). Alice Schaus (2020) poses some interesting questions: “What does it take to become a developer or a data scientist and to find employment opportunities as a refugee? Can anyone become a developer?... How can organizations know whether they are investing in the right skills, skills which make sense today and tomorrow, and which are adapted to the context?” (par. 3).

These are all valid questions that might seem initially tricky to answer. However, the answers require us to take a closer look at the implementation of coding programs. UNHCR’s Connectivity for Refugees initiative experimented with refugee camps in Malawi and Rwanda to better understand possible issues that should be considered (Schaus, 2020). Emphasis was placed on finding the right partners and infrastructure, developing a curriculum that focuses on both soft and hard skills, creating pathways for employment and further education, and setting appropriate quality assurance mechanisms.  These issues are fundamental to ensure that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers have the right skills and relevant employment opportunities to participate actively in the labour market. A program that considers the issues mentioned above has the highest chances of success in promoting social inclusion through the in-demand skill of coding.

Schaus, A. (2020). The refugee coding school trend: lessons and reflections. UNHCR Innovation Service. Retrieved from

CareerHigher Team (2022). Top Tech Skills in Demand 2022. Retrieved from