The program will allow candidates to demonstrate their abilities, ensure balanced and healthy use of technology, media and information literacy, manage privacy and cyber-risks, properly manage virtual communications and collaborations, the director and founder of the Georgian Branch of IT Academy STEP Maka Makhatadze told Golden Brand.
“Applicants will have the opportunity to further develop their digital competence skills, meanwhile continue their daily lives, work, and professional career in the digital world,” Makhatadze said.
IC3 GS6 consists of three level exams: basic, intermediate and advanced, each with a certificate, which verifies a deep knowledge and understanding of digital literacy and indicates that the candidate has the technical knowledge necessary for successful advancement in education and employment, and also for the development of more specialized technological skills.
Makhatadze says that in the last decade, the world has been going through the 4th industrial revolution, which combines digital, physical, biological, and technological advances in an integrated way.
“It is assumed that with technological advancement more than 75 million jobs will become outdated for the next four years, whereas 133 million jobs will be developed in this period. These new jobs require new skills, that will enable people to use technology productively - skills that go beyond physical, cognitive, and soft skills- digital skills,” Makhatadze said.
Everything began in early 2015 when the Georgian branch of IT Academy STEP was opened in Tbilisi.
The purpose of the school has been to help people develop digital and modern skills and master new technological professions that would help them establish themselves in a competitive labor market.
The number of STEP’s branches is growing day by day all over the world. Today it is represented in 20 countries with more than 100 branches. The number of students and graduates is also growing, which has exceeded 100,000.
IT Academy STEP partners with world giant companies and has the following statuses: Adobe Training Partner, Microsoft Academic Volume License, VMware Authorized Training Partner, CompTIA's Academic Partner, Cisco Networking Academy and Autodesk Authorized Academic Partner.
It has also signed the memorandum of understanding and cooperation with local business companies and financial institutions: ProCredit Bank, MaxinAI, TBC Pay, Evex Clinic, Silknet, Bank of Georgia, Tiflis Production, HawX, Latvian company Scandiweb, Sweet Digital Agency, Sweet Digital Flat, St. Andrew's The First Called Georgian University, Oppa Team, Appidea, Profy and more.
Q. What makes STEP different from similar schools?
A. Employer companies, especially when they are hiring an entry-level specialist, are interested in how they interact with other people, what personal qualities they possess, whether they can work in a stressful environment, if they are adaptable to environmental conditions and if they have self-developing, team-working skills and how friendly they are.
Of course, they also are interested in what they can do and what they have created (in the form of a portfolio). Based on these requirements, we have created our learning programs that enable students to acquire knowledge and develop soft skills. Practicing teachers use a project-based teaching method to help develop working skills in a real-world environment. We are constantly hosting various competitions, contests, hackathons and creathons that give our students the experience of working in the real world.
With e-learning software, we get a 360-degree view of the student's profile, allowing us to respond instantly to more effectively develop them. Students also have constant access to electronic and interactive materials, can repeat, and further deepen their knowledge.
I would also like to point out Happiness (Personal) Managers and Career Growth and Development Services who care about students' development, their employment and success, and about providing more services.
We help students go through all the stages of development step by step. Additionally, teach them how to write a resume, make a LinkedIn profile, and prepare for employment. We train and prepare them for the interviews, teach freelance and how to find their first job, and conduct business communications.
IT Academy STEP allows its students to actualize their full potential and shapes them into highly qualified competitive specialists. This is their golden ticket to enter the modern technological world.
Q. What is the learning environment like?
A. STEP is not just an educational institution, it has managed and united its students into one big Steppers' family in which each member constantly feels supported and cared for. The ‘weaker’ students are gladly helped by our practicing lecturers, as well as relatively strong steppers, so as not to lose motivation and interest in learning and development.
IT Academy STEP has created a unique modern work environment that creates the coziness of home. There are specially arranged common workspaces, open and closed cafes, various technology laboratories, which allow people with similar interests to come together, share experiences, help each other and work as a team on common projects.
In a few words, the students have acquired another home in the form of the academy, where they feel comfortable and are connected by friendly and business relations.
Q. How affordable is tuition? Is full or co-financing available? Incentives for outstanding students?
A. The first studies that examined the link between education and personal income appeared in the 1950s. Based on an analysis of more than a thousand studies in 139 countries, it has been found that the return to investment in one year of education is average nine per cent worldwide. In the case of IT Academy STEP, the figure is several times higher. So, judge by yourself how affordable the IT Academy STEP tuition fees are.
We always have special discounts and benefits for gifted socially vulnerable children, children of single mothers, large families, disoriented young people (probationers), who today are in the vacuum of innovative technological progress.
Q. What are the employment opportunities/statistics after graduation?
More than half of the students who finish their studies start working in companies in Georgia, both with our help and independently, and in a short period of time, they succeed in advancing to a higher career level. I would like to add that in addition to employment in the country, they start working as freelancers.
We regularly teach and repeat that if you have misunderstandings and difficulties in the process of obtaining IT knowledge, do not hesitate and do not stop on your way. Use all the resources at your disposal and, first of all, prove to yourself that you are not weak, only then will you be able to achieve your goal!
Q. What was the pandemic’s impact on STEP?
A. The pandemic really hit the financial situation of many students, and a certain number of students found it difficult to adapt to the virtual environment. In the spring of 2020, due to the pandemic, 30% of students of the academy temporarily stopped their studies and went on academic leave, while 12% left their studies altogether. Consequently, the income of the academy also decreased compared to the previous year.
It has been our desire for a long time and it has probably been a dream to introduce an online and blended learning method at STEP.
We just dragged our feet and could not solve this issue at that time. However, the pandemic doubled its speed and turned out that taking the step was not as hard as it seemed. In exactly 24 hours, we managed, on March 3, 2020, to switch completely to distance learning.
Many students did not have a learning environment at home, but for those who did not have a computer, IT Academy STEP made an instant decision to hand over their inventory to them for temporary use. Of course, some excellent students lost their source of income, which forced them to drop out of the academy. In this case too, by the decision of the founders of the academy, we developed a special program in which all these students were involved and were allowed to study for free and contribute to the development of the academy and organize and assist by preparing various activities and projects.
Q. Were there any other innovations you introduced during the pandemic?
We have created narrow specialization programs which can be mastered in 6-8 months and will allow the population of Georgia to be employed not only in Georgian companies but also online, without leaving home and earn a living to support themselves and their families.
At this point we have eight online programs for adults: Front End Web Programming, Back-end Web Programming, Full-stack Web Programming, IT Support Engineering, Digital Marketing, Brand Design, 3D Design and Graphics, Interior Design. We also launched two online programs for teenagers: Programming with Python and 2D design and graphics with Adobe Photoshop.
Q. Congratulations on receiving the Golden Brand. Can you name the specific activities of 2020 that have brought you this award?
A. First of all, thank you very much for awarding us this title. Even the smallest praise is important to us, hence we understand how efficient our work and learning-education is, that we offer to our students. Perhaps we have earned this award by introducing, changing, transforming, and adapting to the new Industry 4.0, and most importantly, we have done it easily. We know what it takes to prepare students for the international market and offer the best and most useful education for their secure future.
Demand is growing day-by-day and we are glad that students are choosing IT Academy STEP. It is a great motivation for us to do even more for their professional development.