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Free coding bootcamp for West Midlands residents affected by Covid-19

Local people seeking a new career in technology are being invited to join a free Covid-19 response bootcamp to take them from scratch to professional developers.

Launching in September 2020, the School of Code bootcamp, funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is full-time, intensive, and free to all West Midlands residents.

No previous experience is required - those applying for the course don’t even need to have seen a line of code before. School of Code takes a learner from novice to software developer in just 16 weeks before helping them find their first role in tech.

With rising automation, a changing job landscape, and the economic crisis caused by Covid-19, technology will be the engine driving the recovery of the region’s economy.

Chris Meah, founder of the School of Code, said: “We need to make sure everyone is on board to benefit. At the School of Code we are open to everyone to help more and different types of people take advantage of the opportunities technology gives, and to future proof their skills and career.

“Bootcamps offer a short, intensive, immersive and transformational learning sprint to a new career. Bootcamps change lives and power growth by giving participants the right skills to be immediately useful to employers on day one. But crucially, our bootcampers also learn how to learn.”

During the School of Code bootcamp, 48 participants will learn the fundamentals of programming and web development with cutting-edge technologies like JavaScript, Node and React, as well as learning industry best practices guided by top industry professionals.

With 125,000 unfilled tech jobs in the UK every year, the School of Code Bootcamp aims to equip its recruits with the skills that industry needs, as well as helping them find exciting career opportunities afterwards. School of Code has run three bootcamps so far, with 90% employment rate. The course prides itself on being open to anyone, with a 50:50 gender split, age-range of 18-60, and demographics matching those of Birmingham. Previous graduates have successfully secured roles at The Economist, Bravissimo, Santander, and more.

Former bootcamper, now associate director at B13 Technology, Clare Streets, said: “I’d resigned myself to the idea that there weren’t any viable opportunities for me to pursue a rewarding and progressive career with young children in tow and then I found the School of Code. On completion of the course, my career went from 0 to 100mph in just under 6 months and I couldn’t be more excited about growing further within the industry.”

Hannah Murphy, bootcamper from cohort 3, now site reliability engineer at the Economist, added: “There is real value in holistic teaching, which covers topics from problem solving to self-awareness to public speaking, with a lot of coding in between! School of Code has been instrumental in starting my new career as a software engineer at the Economist.”

Richard Marshall, CTO at Leamington Spa firm Wealth Wizards, said: “Having worked with School of Code it meant that we had a high level of assurance that we could hire juniors who were capable and had a great broad skill set needed to work in the tech industry.”

The School of Code is focused on providing a free route into tech, and is supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority through the WMCA’s “Beat the Bots” fund as well as through employers who hire through the course. They aim to continue to show more people that learning to code is fun, sociable, team-based and for everyone. The WMCA works closely with the School of Code on the bootcamps, having set the bootcampers two briefs midway through a previous course. 

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We made the Beat the Bots fund available for training providers so workers across the West Midlands can gain invaluable digital skills, preparing them for the jobs of the future.

“In the face of the coronavirus pandemic sadly many people are going to fall out of work, but re-training or improving your current skills is a great way of finding employment again quickly. The Coding Bootcamp being offered by School of Code will help do exactly that.

“I would urge everyone of any age to look into the option of coding, and the success of people like Clare Streets, who went from being a stay-at-home mum to now running B13 Technology, shows just what a difference it can make.”

The School of Code hopes to challenge existing stereotypes of the tech sector and encourage diversity in the workplace by making it more accessible for everyone to enter and benefit from this thriving industry. Former teachers, return to work parents, school leavers, barbers, retail assistants, artists, travel, health and hospitality workers have all learned how to code and changed their career paths.

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