Gyumri Information Technologies Center (GTech) recently embarked upon a new step in its project Boosting Technological Developments in Shirak Marz, when it opened up its new Incubation Lab on October 25th. The incubation lab provides those selected to participate in the project the opportunity to intern with local IT companies.

Earlier this year, Boosting Technological Developments completed its first stage after providing 70 young people between the ages of 17 and 35 with training in IT programming. Half of them successfully completed it, and will be now undergo a five-month coding “boot camp” program at the new Incubation Lab, where, as interns, they will work in groups on projects delegated by several local IT companies.

Funded by the European Union and Armenia’s Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development, this project is a result of a partnership between Microsoft Innovation Armenia and GTech.

“In the framework of the EU4Business and EU4Regions initiatives, the EU supports Microsoft Innovation Armenia and Gyumri Information Technologies Center to boost technological development in Shirak. The project aims to increase the number of small businesses producing higher added value, as well to strengthen the skills of young professionals in the IT sector in Shirak, as key for economic growth and inclusive development,” said Ambassador Piotr Switalski, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia during the Lab’s opening ceremony.

Two more rounds of trainings and subsequent boot camps will be held before the close of the two-year program, which ultimately expects to have around 90 IT professionals employed at local companies. Eight local IT companies will also receive sub-grants, ranging from €5,000 to €10,000, to expand their activities and create new workplaces for the project trainees.

The lab will help to reduce the gap between the need for a more qualified workforce for IT companies, while also boosting the qualifications of GTech students so that they can better fill those gaps, according to GTech Executive Director Amalya Yeghoyan. This will ultimately help to minimize the unemployment rate in the Shirak region. “Interning and working with mentors in the lab will enable GTech students to be more competitive,” she said. “The growth of more prestigious, high-tech companies in Gyumri is a huge challenge for us as they require a greater skill-set from their employees. The existence of such a lab contributes to shorten the way from education to employment.”