New Path in Latvian Technology Education

  • 2024-05-09
  • Anna Andersone, Co-founder of

Technological knowledge has become a critically important competency necessary to ensure the competitiveness of companies. Organizations increasingly seek to attract individuals with both the necessary knowledge and practical skills. Improving these skills is the greatest challenge because it requires engagement with the technology business community, collaboration with existing companies, and industry experts.

In recent years, we have taken significant steps in the development of technology education, one example being "Riga TechGirls." However, despite our achievements, we face a significant challenge – a shortage of people with both technological and business knowledge, as well as practical skills. Several years ago, during a visit to France, I learned about the international program "School42," which had gained wide recognition and popularity. This program prepares individuals for work by providing practical skills, and more than 90% of graduates pursue careers in the technology field. This inspired me and made me wonder why there is no similar initiative in Latvia. We do not have vast natural resources to export, and our former plan to be a transit country between the West and the East is no longer relevant. Therefore, what we can create ourselves is important, as well as whether we can create products and services with added value. The key to success lies in startups, promoting their competitiveness, which is why the idea of introducing such an educational program in Latvia – "StartSchool" – emerged. The Silicon Valley program with over 10,000 graduates worldwide serves as an example.

Opportunities for Future Technology Business Leaders

"StartSchool" is not just about programming or technology education; it is also a story of founding and developing startups, as well as skills that are important and useful in existing companies. It serves as a foundation for startups that create and export products or services with added value, accelerating economic growth and overall economic development. The school is an opportunity to support individuals who see themselves as entrepreneurs and want to develop their ideas. Even if there are no specific ideas at the moment, it is an opportunity to gain technology skills and competencies in product development. At the same time, this program reflects changes in the overall education process – offering a platform where self-directed learning takes place, completing tasks and working together with students from around the world. This model reflects the real working environment, where everyone has their task and is responsible for the quality of their work. The platform is flexible, adapting to the skill level of students and gradually increasing the complexity of tasks. Additionally, it involves peer-to-peer learning, where students work together, evaluate each other, and provide feedback. This not only promotes technology skills but also cross-cutting skills.

A New Program on a Baltic Scale

We Latvians often compare ourselves to our neighbors – Estonians and Lithuanians, yet "StartSchool" is a new initiative because it combines technology skills with the development of the startup ecosystem. Estonia has a technology knowledge program, but the education implemented in Latvia differs precisely with additional competencies in product development and startups. It is comprehensive education that can serve as a guide for people who want to successfully enter the technology industry. These are practical skills that can be immediately applied in real work. Graduates of the program can immediately become actively involved in the startup ecosystem and, if they wish, continue their academic education, but already with acquired practical skills. Program graduates also receive a Qwasar certificate, recognized in the USA.

Empowering the Ecosystem: Contributions of Thriving Companies

Historical experience can serve as the basis for future development – the Latvian technology business is only at the beginning of its development, so we do not have such rich experience to learn from compared to other countries. In the new educational initiative, industry companies such as "Printify," "Nutrameg," "Swisscom DevOps Center Latvia," "Change Ventures," "EazyBI," "," and "Balcia Insurance" have joined forces, providing their experience, knowledge, and financial support to promote the industry's future opportunities. The founders of the school are people who have built successful companies, created their stories, and added value. They are ready to collaborate to promote the growth and innovation of startups, strengthening the ecosystem and fostering long-term economic development.

Latvia has many trusted and bright talents, recognized and valued internationally. The geography of the Baltic region, as well as the fact that Riga is the largest city in the Baltics, provides us with ample opportunities, including great potential to collaborate with any country in the world. Latvia has developed infrastructure, and the airport provides connectivity to countless destinations worldwide – these are important prerequisites that would allow enterprising people with technology and business knowledge to create successful companies.