Concerns that the UK tech sector will be impacted by a lack of talent continue to persist. The lack of a strong pipeline of talent is even more problematic when the sector is so key to the UK’s post-pandemic recovery.
Why aren’t enough young people choosing technology as a career? One of the multitudes of reasons is the lack of affordable training opportunities. I’m delighted to be able to say Nominet is a founding partner of an innovative solution that directly tackles this issue by offering a free, innovative training opportunity that opens up unique pathways into the tech sector.
This month, we helped launch 01Founders, a two-year full-stack developer training programme that culminates in a guaranteed job, at one of the technology partners which include Nominet. This is a bold educational model delivered without teachers. It is based on a peer-to-peer model where students learn by working together to complete projects at their own pace alongside their cohort, developing the skills they need to become proficient software engineers and meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment.
Equally unique is that applicants need no experience and no qualifications to enrol. Enthusiasm and aptitude are all that is required to earn a place on the course, with selection via a cognitive test and a month-long admission course.
This is a long overdue shot of innovation in digital skills training, one that recognises the needs of the industry and the speed at which it moves – it could be the gamechanger we’ve been waiting for.
Reassuringly, it isn’t a pilot either. The approach is based on the pedagogy of Nicolas Sadirac (founder of 01Edu) and seeks to, in his words, “find the next generation of software engineers, not the people who are good at passing exams”. Nicolas has over two decades of experience, building digital education schools, and this UK-based programme has emerged from Founders Forum, a community of Europe’s leading tech entrepreneurs who recognise the need for bold new approaches to training and talent development.
Nominet isn’t the only company to get excited by this. 01Founders has the buy-in of high-profile investors and technology companies who will fund and facilitate the programme. We’re joined by the likes of Peloton as a founding tech supporter and the programme has the private backing of serial entrepreneurs including Kathleen Breitman (Tezos), Rodrigo Abdalla and Lord Rumi Verjee. Its advisory board includes June Angelides, Lord Johnson, Lord Vaizey and Lord Knight.
01Founders is set to commence its first programme in September this year and applications are now open for anyone who dreams of being a software engineer and will be 18 by 1 September 2021. It’s a great opportunity for those with talent struggling to find an entry point and a welcome solution for a sector in need of skills – but more will need to be done.
Recently published research shows the problems are starting earlier in the lives of the young: the number of students taking IT subjects at GCSE had fallen 40% since 2015, with similar declines at A-Level and in higher education institutions [Learning and Work Institute]. Clearly more intervention is required at all ages to ensure that young people see the opportunities that technology can offer for personal development as well as for a potential career.
This is a significant and exciting first step and one I believe will make a real difference to our future talent pipeline in the UK. If this opportunity speaks to you or someone you know, please take a closer look.