A new model for shuttered digital skills academy CodeClan will be ‘highly scalable’ and reduces costs for employers, according to Scotland’s chief entrepreneur.

CodeClan – which closed suddenly last year – is set to commence a pilot with three Scottish colleges and a Silicon Valley education programme, as it prepares for a nationwide relaunch as early as next year.

Supported by CodeBase – the UK’s largest tech incubator – the digital skills academy is being revitalised following its liquidation in August 2023, due to a pressured business model and faltering revenues.

Under the new plan, CodeClan will commence a pilot with Edinburgh College, Borders College, and West Lothian College this summer – with programme content delivered by Silicon Valley education platform Qwasar. 

CodeBase acquired select assets from the digital skills academy following its sudden closure last year, and has enabled around 80 students to complete courses in software development and data analysis in the months that followed.

CodeBase says the relaunch is in response to high levels of industry demand for software development and data science expertise, an acute requirement for upskilling to address the digital skills gap and the potential to accelerate economic impact. 

CodeBase, which also runs the Scottish Government’s startup support programme Techscaler, is actively engaged in discussions with other colleges, and the public and corporate sectors, with a view to a Scotland-wide roll-out of CodeClan as early as next year.  

Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial adviser to the Scottish Government, said: “Establishing a route for people to switch careers into technology is vital to meeting the talent needs of Scotland’s tech sector.  

“I’m particularly excited about the new CodeClan’s highly scalable delivery model. The three-way partnership between CodeBase, Qwasar, and Scotland’s college network makes possible a national scale programme, combining in-person and online training with world-class, constantly refreshed learning materials.  

“By leveraging these assets in combination, the CodeClan model is also now significantly cheaper and removes the payment burden for employers too, which was a problematic area for the prior CodeClan model.” 

Martin Boyle, VP of transformation and strategic relationships at CodeBase, said: “We have spent the last few months reassessing the CodeClan model, and with Qwasar in place we have a world-class content provider that is aligned with the latest needs of industry, delivered through the Scottish college network. While the pilot is relatively small and regionally-focused for now, we envisage Scotland-wide provision in due course.”

Qwasar Silicon Valley, which describes itself as “the only training provider that trains to Silicon Valley standards in software engineering”, was founded in 2019.

Jennifer Robertson, Scotland-born co-founder, added: “We are excited to see this launch alongside CodeBase. Our programmes train to the advanced technical level required by industry and are competency-based, meaning learners build competency in programming step by step.  

“Anyone can do it – yes, it takes effort and there is a lot of coding, but it’s these kinds of courses and hands-on learning pathways that allow anyone to succeed and turn cities and countries into talent powerhouses.”

As part of the pilot, a number of faculty members from each college, in addition to representatives from CodeBase, will undertake related training with Qwasar.  

Qwasar specialises in industry-led techniques of learning, with courses in full stack development, backend software engineering, data science, DevOps and cloud, AI and machine learning. 

Jackie Galbraith, Principal at West Lothian College, said: “We initially reached out to CodeClan as soon as we heard of the challenges they faced to see if we could help in any way, and so we’re delighted to be one of the pilot colleges in this new and exciting partnership.

“Scotland’s colleges have an excellent track record in providing a wide range of opportunities, enabling students, regardless of their backgrounds, to develop the digital skills required to start new careers or develop and thrive in existing jobs in this sector which is so critical to Scotland’s economic future. The three colleges are ideally placed to support the programme and the students undertaking this ground-breaking initiative and we look forward to working with Qwasar and CodeBase.”

While the pilot is not currently open for public applications, individuals and organisations who are interested in finding out more about future CodeClan programmes can register their interest here: https://www.thisiscodebase.com/codeclan