Accessing the right code to enter a growing sector

Published: 20 Apr 2016

Alistair Mackay

With 11,000 job opportunities arising in the technology industry each year in Scotland alone, this represents one of the fastest growing sectors in the country.

The UK’s first accredited digital skills academy, CodeClan, is aiming to provide a solution to the digital skills gap, which currently sees only around 5,000 jobs being filled per year, by producing work-ready junior developers in 16 weeks.

CodeClan teaches students how to code in an intensive 50-60 hour per-week program, giving them the opportunity to develop skills necessary to work in some of Scotland’s up and coming tech companies.

Since its launch in 2015, CodeClan has received applicants from a range of backgrounds, including from North Sea oil and gas and Scotland’s steel industry.

27-year-old Alistair Mackay worked as a steel salesman in Aberdeen before poor market conditions forced him to rethink his career.

He said: “The slump in steel meant that work became increasingly difficult, so my girlfriend and I decided it was time for a change and relocated to Edinburgh.

“I wanted to be in a career that let me create things and software development seemed to be a great choice, but I had no experience.

“I considered going back to university but it felt like a major investment in time and money.

“I am at the beginning of my CodeClan experience, which I fully expect to be hard work but I am looking forward to the journey and embarking on a career in tech at the end of it.”

Gordon MacIntrye, a student in CodeClan’s third cohort, was in a similar position when jobs within oil and gas became few and far between.

Gordon MacIntrye

While carrying out two-to three-week stints on the North Sea’s oil rigs, Gordon explored his passion for digital by dabbling with programming in his spare time.

He said: “I had time to pursue programming between jobs as I could be onshore for anything up to five weeks at a time, so I started doing online courses and tutorials and I really enjoyed it, especially the programming and problem solving aspect.

“I knew that jobs in tech were on the rise so it made sense to hop into an industry that was growing, especially if it meant  I could work full time in a career that I am passionate about.

“Studying and homework have never been my forte but CodeClan is the first time I have actually enjoyed learning.”

CodeClan’s curriculum is created alongside its employer partners to ensure students develop highly relevant skills. It continuously adapts to remain at the forefront of the industry as employers’ needs change and technology developments occur.

CodeClan teaches code using the likes of JavaScript and other programming languages and students are expected to carry out a number of individual and team projects to help consolidate learning.

Gordon said: “I have always loved video games and the Indie game scene has been on the rise for a few years now but I think I will pursue this in my spare time as a hobby. Upon graduation in June I would like to work in software development in a different area but who knows, it’s all part of the excitement.”

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