19 August 2014
Dev Academy takes on ICT skills shortage
After graduating on the 11th of July, ten out of the thirteen web developers have been offered jobs with some of New Zealand’s leading tech companies including Xero, Abletech, Powershop, Partstrader, Enspiral Craftworks, and Loomio. There are three students in the final stages of the recruitment process.
The first New Zealand Dev Bootcamp type school, Dev Academy trains students to be web developers in nine weeks.
It does this with intense sessions of coding, one-on-one teaching, interactive tutorials, app building challenges, and tech Thursdays where real-life developers drop in to talk about a range of subjects close to a their hearts, like the history of APIs.
There are two onsite teachers committed to making sure the students understand the course material.
Product manager at Xero, Andrew Tokeley, says Xero is considering flattening their graduate recruitment cycle, based on the talent and easy placement process that Dev Academy has fostered.
Craig Scott-Hill, HR manager at Powershop, has taken on two graduates from Dev Academy.
He says, “It has been really difficult to find good quality developers for quite a while now, and we realised that we can't continue to rely on finding high end developers from the traditional means. The code the universities teach is outdated and they don't have the right links with industry.”
“It’s easy for us to work with Dev Academy and build a good relationship. Having a good pipeline of talent is really important for a business like Powershop.”
The Academy is focused on training skilled and confident developers and on finding graduates jobs. The partnerships with potential employers extends to Trademe, Carnival, Datacom, NZX, Vend, and Spark.
The course fee is $11000, a price which can seem high from the outside. However, a typical Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science sits at around $17700 over three years excluding living costs, course materials and textbooks.
Recent graduate Nick Johnstone comments, “I’ve had quite a few people ask me if Dev Academy was worth it. I went from a salary of $43500 before to $55000 after graduating, which is more than the cost of tuition.”
MBIE’s occupational outlook puts graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the field of Computer Science earning $41,200 one year after their field of study ended. The average Dev Academy graduate is on an average salary of $55,900 within weeks of graduating.
75 percent of employers were planning to hire new staff in 2014, according to this years Absolute IT Employer Insight Survey. ICT is New Zealand’s fastest growing sector and the job market reflects that. The latest Government’s Sector Report on ICT confirmed wages and salaries are twice the New Zealand average and are growing faster than the average growth rate for the country.
At the end of the nine week course there is a careers week led by Dev Academy founder and recruitment specialist Rohan Wakefield.
Graduate Kendall Flutey says, “The EDA recruitment process was an all encompassing, expert assisted job hunting experience.”
Yosan Legaspi, another graduate, believes that the strong connections to industry helped students identify the culture and types of work of different organisations.
Founder of Enspiral and serial social entrepreneur Joshua Vial is the other founder at Dev Academy. Vial sees growth in digital technology as something that will benefit all New Zealanders.
“The mission of the Dev Academy is to improve the quality of life in New Zealand by growing the tech sector,” he says. “It’s great to change individual lives, and help companies recruit better developers but we see an opportunity to dramatically grow the sector as a whole and help all Kiwis. New Zealand’s digital exports are currently $1-2 billion. The global IT spend will be $5 trillion by 2020, with over a trillion of that added in the next 6 years.”
The Dev Academy sees the biggest barrier facing New Zealand tech companies as access to talent. There is consensus on this from across the sector.
Vial says, “A lot of peoples perceptions of what a career in ICT is not in sync with reality. They see it as being about sitting in a dark room, working alone, but the reality is the human element is huge and the ability to work with people is essential.”
“We believe there are a whole bunch of really good programmers out there in the world but they don’t know it yet. A lot of these people are not going to spend three years learning to be a developer but they will spend 9 weeks,” says Vial.
Kendall Flutey, a graduate of the first cohort says Enspiral Dev Academy changed her life.
“This time last year I was sitting in a large accounting firm going through the motions, uninspired by the work I was doing, questioning how much value I was offering society. Now, I’m sitting amongst a team of creative, passionate people, getting paid to do something I seriously would do for free.”
Dev Academy is also fostering diversity in the ICT sector, 48 percent of students have been female and the team are increasing efforts in reaching out to Maori and Pacific communities.
Vial and Wakefield are on track to get 150 new programmers into jobs by 2015.