8 places to learn to be a developer – whatever your age

Want to learn how to code? From child to octogenarian and beyond, here's where you can make that happen in the South West
6th September 2017

With the digital skills shortage becoming a serious problem, how to train up more developers is a hot topic.

There are no two ways about it, we’re in the depths of the technology phase. Most of us will work on a laptop all day,  come home to talk to our friends on social media then listen to a podcast as we go to sleep. But as we increasingly become consumers, the coders are slipping away.

It’s important to get people of all ages and genders interested in being a digital maker – but this is only half the battle; we need the facilities to teach code. Fortunately, they’re in abundance in the South West, training all ages, as you can see in our list below:

BJSS

This Bristol-based IT consultancy company teamed up with Turinglab, an educational resource business who teach fundamental coding skills to children, and Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, to build the UK’s first creative coding programme that’s in line with the nation computing curriculum.

Together, they want to improve the standard of teaching digital based subjects, putting the emphasis on gamification and project work to encourage a future career in tech.

The new partnership also involves BJSS financing 100 scholarships to Turinglab every year for children in low-income families – the scheme is coming to Bristol this January.

Sam Green, Founder of Turinglab, says, “BJSS is the perfect partner for us to drive and expand our programme across the UK. We created Turinglab to pass on skills we thought were crucial to the next generation in an increasingly digital world. Never has it been more critical for the UK to address the digital skills gap, and we’re delighted to be working with BJSS to help make this vision a reality.”

Code Club

This free after-school club is designed to get 9-13-year-olds into coding. Code Club offers a unique opportunity to show the next generation how awesome being a developer can be.

Children have the chance to create their very own gripping animations or dramatic computer games at this volunteer-led club by learning basic functions of tools such as Scratch, HTML & CSS and Python.

For Code Club, it’s all about inspiring the next generation. Children who come along can expect to see first hand the real life applications of tech – West Town Lane Academy’s Code Club even had the chance to visit the Engine Shed to meet pioneering tech startups such as Opposable Games, YellowDog, Interactive Scientific and Aptcore to be inspired by the amazing things coding can produce.

Fancy coming to say hi to the team? Code Club runs meetups across the country to train volunteers as well as sessions to tell more people about what they do.

Design for Digital

Design for Digital is not strictly an educational organisation, however, it does offer its WordPress knowledge frequently to those who want to take it.

The free monthly sessions are run by Web Designer and Director of Design for Digital, Lawrence Tilley, at The Guild Hub. You can expect to learn how to optimise your website by finding that perfect domain name, getting that SEO just right, promoting yourself on Google Maps and much more.

At a time where having a website with flawless UX can be the difference between a business making it or breaking it, Lawrence’s advice is invaluable to a growing SME.

Website surgery: A taste of the lunchtime sessions

There is also a chance to fire any questions you may have at Lawrence at the end of the talk. “This is a great opportunity for businesses to get free advice and I’ll help provide a solution to their issues,” says Lawrence.

Develop Me

Develop Me started out as a 12-week digital skills course to help address the impending skills gap. Since its launch over a year ago, students have come out with impressive results.

Pete New, one of the founders of Develop Me, says: “With over one million digital jobs advertised nationally in 2014 and a 5.4% growth predicted over the next 5 years, the industry needs to be adopting and encouraging new routes into the sector.”

Nudge Digital: Hear what they have to say after taking on Develop Me graduates

 

The aim is to provide industry-relevant training that will get students, both businesses and individuals, developer-ready by the time they leave the school. As Develop Me doesn’t specialise in one type of student, it doesn’t have a one size fits all – they have focused programs for complete novices through to advanced skills workshops for digital professionals.

Develop Me has also just announced a part time course, making code accessible to those who have unbreakable commitments!

DigiMakers

Explore, Create, Design, Hack and Play at the University of Bristol’s DigiMakers.

Using open-source tools and tech such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Processing and Unity 3D, DigiMakers runs workshops for a wide audience; children, adults and educators are welcome to come along to the informative, hands-on sessions.

The events are designed to show people all the weird and wonderful things you can create with the power of code, from a world where it rains bananas to talking cats.

Keep an eye for their events – the next chance to play with DigiMakers tech is 11 November. The full details haven’t yet been released but, like always, they promise, “There will be a broad range of cool creative stuff to do for everyone from beginners to experts.”

And if you can’t wait until then, DigiMakers have launched a series of online resources for you to have a gander at. Check out its introductions to Arduino, Unity3D, Python here.

Fire Tech Camp

Fire Tech Camp strives in encouraging children to embrace their creativity through tech. By producing engaging and exciting projects, such as game developing, field trips to places like Amazon‘s drone lab and website designing, Fire Tech Camp brings out the best of tech.

Its aim is to bring “the power of tech skills to all kids”, with the focus on ages 9-17. Although the children and teenagers have a lot of fun here, there’s a heavy emphasis on learning. Everyone will come away with real life skills including design thinking, problem-solving, communication and effective teamwork as well as their very own games!

Inspiring the future: Fire Tech Camp has the kids’ seal of approval 

 

There’s the option of Day Camps, Residential, Afterschool and Weekends with a whole range of courses to pick from, each varying in age and in price.

Mayden Academy

Mayden Academy is a Bath-based initiative to get people with little to no coding skills building their own websites.

The flexible teaching style means everyone is welcome, whether you just want to improve knowledge you already have or if you’re starting from scratch.

The programme promises you can learn to code in just 4 months. Mike Oram, the Lead Trainer and Software Developer at Mayden says, “Along the way, students will have the opportunity to achieve industry recognised qualifications such as Certified Scrum Master and Zend Certified PHP Engineer, they will develop a portfolio of work and have the chance to learn from leading professionals in the software industry.”

The 16-week course takes a maximum of 10 pupils at a go, meaning you’re guaranteed to get close, personal tuition. Mayden ensures you will come out developer-ready, something which is substantiated by its pupils – and the fact every graduate has been employed within 90 days of completing the course.

We caught up with Mayden Academy graduate, Connor Jones, who tells us, “I’ve gained a huge amount through my training.

“I understand different software languages and know how to write good code… Graduating from the academy, I feel prepared to start in my first role as a developer and I know that I can be an asset to the company.”

TalkIT

Are you a developer looking to improve your skills? Don’t have the time to invest in weeks of vigorous education? Cue TalkIT – the e-learning platform that teaches you on the go.

This solution is perfect for businesses and developers alike who want to learn a new skill. Many of TalkIT’s informative blogs are posted on its website, but for full access to the wealth of knowledge behind the screen, you’ll have to sign up for a membership.

Some of the free blogs include the topics Learn to Code – Create a Game5 Important Rules in Good Website Design and Top 6 new features of C# 6.0.

 

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