Meet Codez Academy, the Welsh startup preparing you for the modern world of work
The world we live in today is completely interconnected, and nearly every facet of our lives revolves around technology. This is no different in the workplace, where technological innovations are steadily streamlining how businesses operate.
If you want to survive in today’s technologically diverse workplace, you need digital skills. However, according to multiple reports and studies, Britain is in the middle of a tech skills crisis. There aren’t enough people actually capable of working in some of the UK’s biggest tech roles, with around 12.6 million adults in the UK lacking basic digital skills.
Thankfully there are plenty of people and organisations trying to change this, and Welsh entrepreneur Dean Jenkins is one of them. As the founder and managing director of Codez Academy, Jenkins wants to help children, students and adults improve their chances of employment through coding courses.
Dean Jenkins – Founder and MD, Codez Academy
“[Codez Academy] launched with the belief that anyone and everyone has the ability to code,” Jenkins explains. “Codez Academy exists to prove that traditional academic teaching practices aren’t the only way to get ahead in life.”
It’s clear that Jenkins wants everyone to be able to code, opening up opportunities in a world of new technological possibilities. He wants to close the skills gap by encouraging people of all ages to become coders and treat their new skills seriously.
“At Codez, we understand that computer skills have now become just as important as traditional core subjects like maths and English,says Jenkins.“The company was established with the overall goal of ensuring that people have the necessary skills to compete digitally moving forward.” Jenkins and his team are well aware that there are plenty of coding schools out there already and hope that their passion to get people into tech jobs will set them apart.
Codez route to success
Even for a relatively young company, only launched in June 2015, Codez Academy has already been recognised by the National Coding Week Awards and provides courses for Cardiff and Vale College. While Jenkins’ drive and business acumen have helped the company succeed, it’s pretty obvious that the company resulted from Jenkins’ own life experiences.
“Having left school with few prospects following struggles, I ended up bouncing between various job roles, including work in the construction sector and setting up my own sweet-shop business, which ended up failing,” he explained.
“After all this, and following additional physical and mental health issues, I was unsure what sector I would ever work in long term. I later managed to secure work with healthcare company Learna Cardiff as a web designer, which was a very positive move for me.
“Finally, at the age of 25, I discovered a passion for web design and teaching, with Codez Academy being the result of my journey.”
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The knowledge acquired through this journey runs through the veins of Codez Academy. Having never let anything get in his way – including dyslexia and dyscalculia diagnoses – Jenkins found his place in web development and tech, and that’s where he wants to see others realising their potential.
Through a variety of affordable short courses, workshops and employability schemes, Codez Academy aims to get people up and running for the modern world of work. One particular scheme it runs, called Digital Roots, gives students and unemployed adults the opportunity to gain mentorship from local technology businesses as they learn to code.
“I realised that there was a relevant need for more coding courses to be available in South Wales,” Jenkins explained. He realised that, without providing people with relevant skills, Welsh citizens wouldn’t ever be able to get onto the tech jobs ladder. “I particularly wanted to help low-income or unemployed individuals learn new digital skills and improve their knowledge, and used the passion and drive I have developed through the knocks taken in my own career to make it happen.”
After all of Codez Academy’s success, where will Jenkins go next? Turns out that’s something Jenkins asks himself a lot. “Codez Academy is still developing,” he muses, ”but I believe we have established a great foundation on which we can realistically build on and achieve the aims we have set out.
“In five years’ time I expect to be employing up to ten staff, having already helped a significant number of students to reach their digital potential. In the long term, I see Codez Academy being based across the UK with up to 40 tutors on hand. From next year onwards, I’ll be looking to expand into Bristol, London, Manchester and Glasgow.”