Software skills academy launches this autumn

Scotland’s first dedicated software skills academy is to open its doors in Edinburgh in September with the aim of addressing a national shortage of software developers.

The CodeClan academy aims to create a new generation of software developers that will allow Scotland’s increasingly vibrant digital sector to flourish.

The academy – which has been set up as a social enterprise to be managed by IT industry body ScotlandIS in partnership with Skills Development Scotland – hopes that its 16-week courses will be in demand by those who have an aptitude for software coding but need a route into the industry.

It is based on a new type of immersive academies around the world including Flatiron School in New York, Makers in London, and Stackademy in Berlin

There is no age limit for students and the intensive full-time course, to be taught by IT lecturers and software developers working in the industry, would appeal as much to women returning to the workplace, graduates from other fields looking for work in the IT sector, career switchers and coding hobbyists looking to turn their interest into a profession.

Forecasts suggest Scotland’s digital sector needs 11,000 new entrants a year and the number of IT graduates and modern apprenticeships is not enough to meet current demand, which is rising by around 2,000 a year. As a result of that skills shortage, employers are currently offering upwards of £23,000 to £25,000 to recruit entry-level software developers.

Rebecca Heaney from CodeClan said: “Digital is part of everyday life and CodeClan will fast track access into shaping that world. A CodeClan qualification will create countless career paths and give students skills they can take anywhere.”

“CodeClan needs people who share our passion for software and who want to learn the craft of coding so they can build and design digital products for the real world. Applicants don’t need any prior experience to apply to CodeClan but we do demand an intense desire to learn.”

The Scottish Government has provided start-up funding for the academy as part of a £6.6 million cash boost to Scotland’s IT sector. In the long-term the academy is expected to become self-financing by charging tuition fees of £4,500 to students and £5,000 to employers who take on the academy’s graduates.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “I greatly welcome today’s launch of CodeClan, the industry-led digital skills academy. CodeClan will provide new opportunities for people from many walks of life to meet pressing skills shortages in this growing and vibrant digital sector.

Starting from October a new course at the academy will launch every 10 weeks, with the first cohort of 20 students graduating in February 2016.

The academy, which will be housed in a former DHSS building in Castle Terrace next to the CodeBase technology incubator, is being launched amid a global shortage of digital skills which is affecting businesses in a wide variety sectors.