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Time to make a difference

Helping disadvantaged people in Madrid increase their digital skills and find work brings many rewards.

“A small amount of your time can help to change another person’s future.”

That’s the verdict of María Luisa López-Tola Seguín, one of a number of Capgemini colleagues who have participated in a Spanish partnership to help socially disadvantaged people develop their digital skills and increase their employability.

“I wanted to get involved because it was an opportunity to make a difference,” says Maria, software development manager in Capgemini’s Madrid office.

“In my opinion, the hours I invested in the training mean nothing compared to the possibility of changing people’s lives.”

A partnership for change

The partnership with Fundación Integra started back in 2017 and, since then, Capgemini colleagues have had the opportunity to help 200 people at risk of social exclusion, including victims of gender violence, homeless people, former inmates, former drug addicts, and people with disabilities. During the training sessions, participants learn to look for work online and to use the internet and apps as tools in their everyday lives.

“My module focused on how to search for a job with your mobile phone, including advice on sending emails and managing your profile on job portals” she explains. “We tried to be as practical as possible, so the participants could take the knowledge away and confidently apply the skills themselves in the future.”

A personal approach

For María, there were also some personal rewards.

“The classes were really enjoyable to teach – and they taught me things too. I got to see different people’s views of the world. Every person in the class brings their individual characteristics. They have had different lives and face different futures, and you need to adapt what you teach to each one of those.”
Having completed her teaching, María is now an advocate for others.

“It was great to meet other Capgemini colleagues who had volunteered to run modules on the scheme,” she says, “and I’d encourage more to give it a go. COVID-19 has currently put a stop to the courses, but I hope they start again, and I will be happy to take some more sessions.”

“Some of my colleagues have said to me that they don’t think they would be good teachers. But it’s not really about teaching; it’s about being sensitive to the problems of others. I make sure I recommend it to everyone. For some of us, it’s easy to write an email to apply for a job, but for others it’s much more difficult. We should remember this.”

Results and rewards

Since the course finished, Fundación Integra has kept María up to date with her students’ progress.

“We get sent feedback from the participants, and emails when they find a job,” she says. “When I read those emails, it can make me cry.”

She also happened to meet one of her former students by chance, in a client’s office.

“I spent some time working as a consultant at a client’s office,” she says, “and I saw Mukhtar, who was originally from Ethiopia, and who had been in my class. He had been in a really difficult situation when he arrived, and now he had a job at the client’s office, working as a janitor.

“I saw him working there every day, and it brings me a lot of optimism and hope for the future. I chatted with him and it was good to see that the class had been useful. For him it had made a big difference. That’s why it has been a very fulfilling experience. It’s only a little effort for me, but for those in the class the impact can be really big.”