Immigration as a driver of economic growth

There are around 272 million migrants in the world, which is equivalent to 3.5% of the world population.

74% are of working age (between 20 and 64 years old); 58% of them are men and 42% women.

In recent years, the number of migrants working in high-income countries has decreased while the number of them working in middle-income countries has increased.

In 2019 alone, these workers sent a total of $689 billion to families and communities in their home country.

Migrants tend to pay more in taxes and social contributions than they receive as individual benefits.

On average, migrants from developing countries make up 7% of their gross domestic product.

Hola Code

Aída Chávez and Diana Izquierdo are co-CEOs of Hola Code, a social enterprise that provides technology education to migrants and refugees in Mexico and also helps them join the labor market.

You could see that there was a lot of talent wasted in the migrant community, but at the same time there was no integration program that would allow them to join the workforce. On the other hand, we saw that there was a need for software developers in Mexico and the region,” Izquierdo explains.

The main source of inspiration behind the project is the difficult reality that migrants face upon their return to their homeland: “There are Mexican men and women who lived all their lives in the United States, grew up and identify with that country, and suddenly they are forced to return for being undocumented”, explains Chávez. They are not a small number: from 2008 to date, it is estimated that there were approximately three million return migrants, a result of the economic recession and the anti-immigration stance of some governments. “We wanted to know what was happening with them and we discovered that they face discrimination and many times fall into poverty despite being bilingual and having skills,” explains Chávez. 

Hola Code is a five-month program that teaches software skills to migrant people. After graduation, the organization connects them with a network of 150 recruiting partners and technology companies, including Globant. The company also reviews the students’ curricula, offers mentoring and proposes subsequent training for graduates. The graduates are boys and girls who may not have a university degree, but who are bilingual and feel comfortable in different cultures and know how to develop software. In many cases, they go from having a salary of $ 300 a month to receiving $ 1,300 in their first job after the program. For all these reasons, the creators of Hola Code see it as a way of “hacking the educational system.”

In addition to focusing on returning migrants, Hola Code has already started working with refugees from Central America, Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria. The next challenge, Izquierdo explains, “is to maximize our resources and become a sustainable model in the long term.”

José Torrens

José Torrens is Venezuelan and emigrated to Colombia four years ago. The political-economic situation of his country prompted him to seek better luck for himself and at the same time find a way to be able to help his parents and brother (or family) with their living expenses. Although he had participated in student politics in his hometown and also had a degree in Computer Science, it was not easy for José to insert himself in Bogotá: “When you arrive in another city you realize that you are nobody, that nobody knows you and that your world has completely changed. It is a lesson in humility. Everything you want to do is going to cost you twice as much as the people who were born there ”.

After a long time working as a freelance software developer, José joined Globant, where he has been working for two and a half years: “I had prejudices about how I was going to be treated as a migrant. In my everyday life I sometimes find it difficult to speak freely because I don’t want my accent to be recognized or to be treated differently. The truth is, the Globant experience was a total shock compared to what I had imagined. I met many people from other Latin American countries with whom today I share and learn many things. Nobody is different from anybody ”.

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