Hackathons Refugees Teams

Bringing high-skill refugees and jobs together through diverse hackathon teams


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✨ This new project was announced at Hack4SocialGood 2024 - look forward to a challenge from us in 2025!

Hackathons are multi-day events where digital prototypes are developed. In a new research project, we will test whether hackathons can help high-skill refugees find better jobs and whether deferred acceptance algorithms can generate diverse, stable, and productive teams. Many high-skill occupations currently have low unemployment and high vacancy rates, with the government forecasting that migration is necessary to fill vacancies. At the same time, high-skill refugees generally find jobs well below their qualifications for multiple reasons, including labor market integration programs that target lower skill jobs and social networks that connect them to jobs within their migrant communities. One potential way to address these issues is to encourage high-skill refugees to attend hackathon events where they can directly demonstrate their skills to potential future colleagues and employers.

At the same time, larger hackathons face the challenge of how to form diverse teams—a critical building block given evidence that diverse teams are more effective—and more specifically hackathon projects often need a specific skill mix. While algorithms are already used for team formation in other contexts, these ignore participant characteristics and preferences, likely leading to participant dissatisfaction and less productive teams. Team formation algorithms that consider characteristics and preferences could yield diverse, stable, and productive teams. Such algorithms could be used not only at hackathons, but also in education and the corporate sector—really any context in which diverse and stable teams are important.

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Prof. Dr. Debra Hevenstone
Berner Fachhochschule
School of Social Work
Abteilung Soziale Systeme

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