Dev Academy releases placement figures, takes on ICT shortage

The Enspiral Dev Academy has released job placement figures for the first round of students to pass through the programme, and this comes as New Zealand faces a critical ICT skill 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.

Rohan Wakefield, a founder and recruitment specialist at Dev Academy, says that the majority of graduate positions are as junior developers, where they fit into front and backend developer roles, development operations, and database development.

The Dev Academy is founded on principles sourced from the Dev Bootcamp, an increasingly popular code school with three locations in the US. Both programmes aim to convert novices into experienced developers within 9 weeks. Students are immersed in 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.

At the end of the nine week course there is a careers week led by Dev Academy founder and recruitment specialist Rohan Wakefield. This teaches students skills they’ll need in the workplace – skills that aren’t taught in universities, but are necessary for the graduates to fit seamlessly into positions at tech companies.

The Academy’s name is fitting within itself, as participants can find themselves spending up to 80 hours per week on practical and theoretical assignments. Each group of students, called a cohort, has access to two onsite teachers who are committed to making sure the students understand the course material.

For all their hard work, those who pass through the course successfully can expect significant benefits and placements at some of New Zealand’s most prestigious tech companies.

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.

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 devs 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.”

Rohan Wakefield, who is in charge of placing students in work positions, says that he’s not worried about saturating the market with talent, since demand for developers is strong and continues to grow on a daily basis. New Zealand’s expenditure on information and communications technology as a percentage of GDP is the highest in the world – at 14.4%, ahead of the United States at 9% – and this shows no signs of slowing down. 

In years to come, technology may be one of our biggest exports, and Dev Academy is determined to keep up with the accelerated growth.

The course is not expensive, as the Academy has worked tirelessly to diminish the barriers to entry as much as possible. There is an $11000 fee, which may seem steep when viewed alone. However, a typical Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science sits at around $17700 over three years excluding living costs, course materials and textbooks, and at the end of the degree, there are no job placements.

Joshua Vial, Teaching Lead, says that the code school is in the process of having the course NZQA approved, so that students will be able to take out loans and allowances to help pay for fees and living costs.

For those wanting to take their newly found expertise overseas, the NZQA approval coupled with the informal brand association with Dev Bootcamp puts graduates in good standing with any potential employer. Dev Bootcamp is well known internationally and is regarded as one of the leading bootcamps in the world.

Joshua and Rohan are on track to get 150 new programmers into jobs by 2015. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the intensive 9 week Academy, there is more information and an application form here.

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