Full-on course for aspiring web developers

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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An intensive new course in Wellington will teach aspiring web developers one of the most in-demand code languages in just nine weeks.

The Enspiral Dev Academy programme, in partnership with Wellington City Council and supported by Grow Wellington, trains students so they are armed with enough knowledge to be ready for an entry-level job using Ruby On Rails or .NET.

Ruby On Rails is the code used for developing electricity firm PowerShop's website, while .NET is the code behind Xero and Trade Me.

It came from American course Dev Bootcamp, whose curriculum Enspiral Dev Academy has licensed for use in New Zealand. Class time totals a standard 40 hours a week, but students will be expected to dedicate more than 70 hours to the programme.

FutureTech IT recruiter Nicky Maaka said it was hard to find good quality candidates with Ruby On Rails skills. "There is a demand, absolutely."

Powershop chief executive Ari Sargent and Xero chief executive Rod Drury both supported the programme, agreeing there was a skills shortage in Wellington.

Enspiral Dev Academy's head of selection and placement, Rohan Wakefield, said three students had signed up for the first course within hours of it launching with social media publicity yesterday.

One was a Wellington IT systems worker who had become interested in code, another was a Christchurch developer who specialised in Java code and wanted to transition into .NET and the third was a Christchurch woman taking advantage of the diversity scholarship offered: women and people from ethnic minority groups under-represented in IT qualify for a $1000 discount from the course fees.

At $11,000, the course could be considered pricey for many people especially as there are popular free online courses that teach Ruby On Rails, such as Codecademy.

The boot camp is not eligible for StudyLink student loans or NZQA certified but works closely with the IT industry so while jobs are not guaranteed, students should be put in touch with potential employers. Course fees are similar to the US$12,200 US version.

Wakefield said code was hard to learn and many who tried to teach themselves burned out, plus the course taught workplace soft skills.

"It is not just a case of giving people coding skills but replicating the real-life environment so they have a realistic idea of how to integrate smoothly in a team by giving them soft skills about how to communicate, the ability to problem-solve in a group.

"Empathy and kindness are things that create culture and that's what we want to instil in students," he said.

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The first Enspiral Dev Academy course runs in May. If demand is there, Wakefield hopes it will be taught on a rolling basis. "It's not just a case of finding students who have got the money . . . it's about finding the best and brightest people."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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