Introducing Makers Academy Apprenticeships

Makers Academy is Europe’s most elite and competitive coding bootcamp. In December 2017, we are launching our first Apprentice cohort. Participation will be by invitation only. Interested companies can now apply to be part of the pilot. To learn more, please email adele@makersacademy.com

I’m Sam. I’ve been a programmer since I was 16.

About eight years ago, I joined Teach First and taught as a teacher in a ‘challenging’ school in the North East. I left after seeing how our traditional approach to education totally fails to prepare people for the world — or life. It crushed me.

I saw the brightest, gifted, most inquisitive young students told that they should care about things they had no reason to, and told that what they really cared about didn’t matter.

School didn’t build on them: it packaged them, boxed them, turned off their hunger to learn, and sold them a story about a lifelong career that simply wasn’t out there for them.

I joined Makers Academy 3 years ago because I saw a unique environment for the training of future-proofed people: and the only way to close the digital skills gap.

The Makers Ethos

Since then, we’ve iterated on the course every 4 weeks — each time, listening carefully to employer feedback and incorporating it — alongside cutting-edge education theory — into our next set of developers.

That’s close to 40 iterations: and we’re not slowing down. In fact, six months ago we increased our iteration rate by a full third.

There is nowhere else with this kind of agility and responsiveness to the employment market’s needs.

The approach

We train the best junior software engineers available today. We recognise that modern software engineers don’t work in isolation, and don’t crank out math solutions all day, every day.

Real software developers are communicators, collaborators: they’re as at home defining problems alongside marketing reps as they are building stable, fast, elegant products in teams. They care about what they build. What they make is an extension of themselves. And they must love what they do. That’s what companies refer to today as Product Engineers: people who care about building something of value.

We develop highly Agile, thoughtful, creative programmers who bring that love — and that passion for change, for optimisation, for personal growth — to employers’ teams.

We’ve done that nearly 1,500 times so far. And we’ll do it many times more than that.

The Course

We have a simple idea: that, in sixteen weeks, we can train complete beginners to become better software engineers than any Computer Science graduate.

First, we train them to program. They must be proficient in ‘coding’ before they start.

Then, we train them in all the core software engineering skills: debugging, research, design, testing — and around a hundred more. We use a unique combination of challenges, workshops, seminars, and projects to introduce them to these: in isolation, then together.

Then, we train them to use a wide array of modern technologies, approaches, and principles. We partner with some of the world’s foremost software engineering thought leaders to inspire and guide them. At the center: their passion and interest — for programming, for learning, and for products.

Alongside all of this, we develop the whole person. Students are constantly integrating: integrating topics with real-life work examples, with conferences and hackathons; integrating with one another and with the wider professional programming community; integrating with their whole selves (thanks to our meditation, yoga, and reading clubs).

Diversity

But we’re missing a key slice of the pie. We can only accept a tiny drop from the possible talent pool.

We all know the difference a diverse team makes. Your customers are diverse. Your team needs to be too. But an 8k entry fee — and no salary for three months — bars so many people from entry.

Right now, there are hundreds of gifted software engineers who just can’t access this program. And, as a result, they can’t access your companies. And your companies can’t access them.

We’ve been able to make some inroads into this: scholarships with ThoughtWorks, IBM, and Skimlinks. But that gap — between the brilliant people stuck in that inaccessible talent pool, and having them work for you — remains vast.

We’re here to bridge that gap. This is why we’re launching Makers Academy Apprenticeships.

Makers Academy Apprenticeships

Here are the struggles with traditional Apprenticeship models:

1. Apprentices lack the skills to contribute value.

This is a massive problem for software developers. If it takes 18 months of on-the-job training to learn how to code — a minimum requirement to contribute — what value are you bringing for those 18 months?

2. Apprenticeships take a long time.

This Levy thing is planned in increments of years: two years sitting in the pot, it’s lost. Your organisations like to adjust hiring strategy year-on-year: or more frequently. An 18-month training program just doesn’t fit squarely.

3. Getting the right people is hard.

There’s this idea that Apprentices are A-Level students. They lack commercial experience. Their growth is hard to predict.

Apprenticeship providers do a minimum level of selection. They lack experience in spotting the traits that make a good engineer.

4. They’re the same old education system, repackaged for technical education.

Lectures, homework, chalk-and-talk: this isn’t the way to train problem-solvers, change-makers, and creative software engineers. But that’s exactly how most providers do it. It’s all they’ve ever had to do.

Here’s how we’re fixing it.

1. Our Apprentices can contribute to professional software the moment they leave our up-front course.

You wouldn’t hire a journalist who doesn’t speak English. Why hire an Apprentice unless they can code? That’s a bare minimum to contribute.

Compare the Market, one of our oldest Hiring Partners, measure how long it takes a Maker to move from junior to mid-level: 8 months. That’s compared with 18 for an average employee. These people are on an insane trajectory: one they’ll want to maintain.

We’re the only people doing this.

2. Makers Academy Apprenticeships take 12 months, not 18.

It’s the same Level 4 Qualification. We already meet the Standard requirements after 4 months, but the minimum term is 12. Apprentices will be qualified in ⅔ the time.

3. We’ll select the right people with you.

We get hundreds of applications per month. We accept only 25. There is no-one else in the country that handles this sort of selection volume.

We’ve been refining our selection process for 4 years: with all the agility we bring to our course. It’s been designed and refined by software engineers, and it works. We know how to do this: we’ve made the mistakes.

4. Makers Academy Apprenticeships exceeds the requirements of the Level 4 Software Developer Standard, with all the value-added elements of our existing program.

What next?

We’re running our first Apprentice Cohort in December 2017. Participation will be by invitation only. Interested companies can now apply to be part of the pilot. To learn more, please email adele@makersacademy.com.