The company will work with the Blacks in Technology foundation, which said the initiative could ‘improve much-needed black representation in tech’.
Nokia plans to collaborate with online education platform Udacity and the Blacks In Technology (BIT) foundation to provide a scholarship programme aimed at helping people from underrepresented communities advance their careers in the technology industry.
More than 300 scholarships will be made available, helping participants become familiar with a range of core tech competencies, from cloud computing and programming to AI and data science.
Courses will range from introductory to advanced levels spanning topics such as AI programming with Python, Java programming, data structures and algorithms, intermediate Python and cloud DevOps engineering.
The fully funded scholarships are available to applicants over the age of 18 all over the world and courses will be delivered online through Udacity. The platform’s online Nanodegree programmes can be completed alongside further studies or full-time work.
“We have joined forces with Nokia and Blacks In Technology foundation because we believe that it is vital to continue to create opportunities for underrepresented groups to build careers in the field of technology,” said Gabe Dalporto, CEO at Udacity.
Nokia’s global head of sustainability, Karoliina Loikkanen, added that the “technology industry must reflect the world around us” and that education would be a key factor in this.
Dennis Schultz, executive director at BIT agreed. “Education is one of the most important ways for us to help remove the barriers to diversity in tech,” he said.
“We are pleased to see major industry players like Nokia stepping up to the plate with Udacity and addressing the issue head-on in order to drive forward digital transformation and improve much-needed black representation in tech.”
Black people comprise only 3pc of employees in the top 75 Silicon Valley tech companies, according to 2016 data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Meanwhile, in Europe, just 4pc of technology professionals consider themselves black, African or Caribbean.
Nokia said it will work closely with its African-American employee resource group to further promote the scholarship initiative.
“Diverse businesses are shown to perform better,” Loikkanen said. “And we intend to encourage students who successfully complete one of the programmes to apply for positions within Nokia.”
Applications for the scholarship programmes are now open until 27 September. To find out more or to apply, see here.