Read caption "NRC provided us with tablets to use during classes. It is a great way to learn, the way I believe everyone in this world should be learning. It’s nice to see our classes have access to technology”, said Haneen. A 25 year old Jordanian student at the Aydoon community based centre in Irbid, north of Jordan, where the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) runs many activities and trainings. Photo: Hassan Hijazi/ NRC

Pluralsight One partnering with the Norwegian Refugee Council

Published 20. Jun 2019
Today, on World Refugee Day, we are announcing a partnership with Pluralsight One, the philanthropic arm of technology skills development company Pluralsight. Pluralsight One focuses on enabling access to technology skills to support freedom, equality and opportunity around the globe.

You have heard armed forces are heading towards your home. The bombings will start soon. You have 30 minutes to gather your family, pack your essential belongings and start walking in search of somewhere safer. You and your family travel for days, maybe weeks or even months until you can ask the question “Are we safe?” and get a positive answer.

Often the second question that gets asked is “Do you have wi-fi?”. This is the new reality of displaced people. Technology is changing how they find information, how they let their relatives know they are safe, how they integrate into their new lives.

New challenges demand new tools

There is a similar change going on in those organisations, like the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), that serve the 70,8 million people are currently displaced. That total is growing, while funds to provide assistance like shelter, water and legal advice are diminishing. The shortfall in funding has grown to 40%. Change is needed. As in other sectors, that change will come from the introduction of technology.

Traditionally the tools of the humanitarian aid worker have been the 4x4 vehicle, the notepad and pencil. Going forward the key tools will increasingly be digital ones. How do you transform an organisation to deliver on this? In turn, how do you provide opportunities for the people displaced by conflict to find new lives in the digital economies?

Read caption Muslimo Mohamed Nur, 47, lives with three of her seven children in the Baidoa displacement camp in Somalia. With innovative CASH assistance, she purchased a private solar panel. She uses the solar panel to charge mobile phones for her neighbours, earning around one USD a day, which she uses to buy food. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC

Building the ICT skills we need to help others

This partnership goes beyond just providing access to Pluralsight's technology skills platform. It is about supporting the digital transformation of NRC, which in turn will create opportunities to transform the lives of the displaced people NRC serves. This starts with questions like: what are the ICT skills that every member of the NRC staff needs? What special skills do our ICT teams require? How can we build the data handling skills of our monitoring and evaluation teams, or of our finance teams?

Working with a Pluralsight consultant, who is interviewing various NRC staff, we are looking to define role-based learning pathways for our employees. Under a multimillion-dollar grant from Pluralsight One, our staff will have access to tools that will enable them to self-assess their existing skills.Then, based on their role, they will get content recommendations to fill the gaps.

Reaching the hard-to-reach with digital services

Upskilling the NRC workforce is one critical aspect of transforming us into a digital data-driven organisation, which is one of our four strategic organisational goals. Having such a workforce opens new opportunities for how we collect and analyse data to prioritise and allocate scarce resources.

It enables new approaches such as the digital delivery of legal advice, which can complement our face-to-face services and provide 24/7 help, even to people in hard-to-reach areas. It will enable us to reimagine some services in new, disruptive ways.

Read caption A local trader (second from right) at the e-Voucher market in Kanyabayonga, DR Congo lists a purchase of palm oil on the designated smartphone, while the beneficiary (far right) is standing ready to have her e-Voucher card scanned. Photo credit: NRC/Christian Jepsen

Upskilling is the journey, employment the goal

The initial focus of our partnership is on transforming ourselves. The longer-term focus is on improving opportunities for displaced people seeking new lives. Pluralsight One will go beyond the traditional model of offering training. Our goal is to use their data and partners to identify which are the best topics for upskilling people in a local market such as Lebanon or Colombia. These newly skilled people will then be promoted back to the same partner network that is in search of qualified talent. The goal is employment; upskilling is just part of the journey to get there.

Sharing information can lead to long-term solutions

The final focus of our partnership is sharing information. This can be for advocacy, fundraising, even community projects. There is a large gap between the displaced person who may be living in proximity to the conflict that caused their displacement, and the global technology community who are interested in solving this displacement crisis.

The more we can inform that community, and build linkages, the better our chances of finding long-term solutions for the one in 112 people currently displaced by conflict around the world