Editor and author of StartIt, Zoja Kukić, announces the continuation of programmes that have changed the face of the Serbian start-up scene and provided many with a chance to take the development of their careers in their own hands.
In the past year you’ve decided to make IT knowhow available to most of Serbia by establishing “Startit Centres” across the country. What are the goals and results to date in smaller towns?
– The goal we want to achieve is reducing the numbers of young people leaving their hometowns and the country. We believe that developing IT skills and entrepreneurship is one of the ways of doing that. There are Startit Centres located in seven cities – Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Valjevo, Inđija, Vršac and Subotica, and this year we will open new ones in Šabac and Kragujevac.
Startit Centres across the country almost every day offer free courses, seminars, lectures or workshops, and they have been attended over the past year by more than 24,000 people. The programmes are diverse – topics vary from strictly technical to digital marketing, freelance opportunities or general technological trends. And the target groups are broad, from primary and secondary school pupils, via professionals from other sectors, to computer programmers and engineers.
How do you succeed in providing high quality programmes that are also free?
– That’s primarily thanks to the large number of IT professionals who are willing to share their knowhow freely and help in achieving the common goal of empowering young people and giving them the opportunity to build a career and life in their own city and country.
We also have great support from domestic IT companies, such as Nordeus, Telekom Srbija, Quantox and many others. There are also donors, led by the German Office for International Cooperation – GIZ, which has supported our projects for five years already.
More than 24,000 people passed through Startit Centres over the past year
What types of programmes do learners receive, and to what extent are they aligned with the needs of the market?
– The programmes are strong in three ways. First, we primarily cover strictly technological topics, and in that we have programmes designed to help IT professionals become even better, while we also help those just wanting to enter this field and to re-train for it.
We also share knowledge in complementing other “professions” with the help of IT, such as digital marketing, web design etc. We try to cover the basic changes brought to many industries by technology. We can see how important that is through examples from our country, which creates software that helps lawyers better manage cases, drones that help with agriculture etc.
The third focus is entrepreneurship, which we believe is a key skill for the future, regardless of whether you opt for an entrepreneurial career or to work in some company.
What are your plans for 2018?
– Along with the opening of two new Startit Centre, we will continue our programmes and improve them further. We want as many people as possible to learn about the opportunities provided by IT, because IT and entrepreneurship are skills that will be crucial in the emerging Industry 4.0. Likewise, we want even more young people to discover that Startit Centres can provide them with support and help in finding work and improving their skills.