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International AI-powered fintech platform with a tech hub in Birmingham, Sidetrade, has brought on three graduates as full-time employees following its 2021 Sidetrade Code Academy – a free four-week apprenticeship-style training course open to all adults in the Greater Birmingham area, regardless of prior technical training or experience.

The 2021 Sidetrade Code Academy commenced in September following an intensive assessment period in the summer. The programme culminated in a presentation day, where six participants showcased their final projects to peers and Sidetrade’s business leaders. Following this, three of the graduates have now joined Sidetrade as full-time employees in the R&D and Professional Services teams.

The Sidetrade Code Academy is a free, four-week course designed and delivered entirely in-house by Sidetrade’s full-stack developers and data scientists. The course is aimed at adults with any level of tech expertise to provide them with the opportunity not only to learn to code, but to gain valuable experience of the world of work, and insight into how a fast growth fintech business operates. The curriculum focuses heavily on offering hands on experience, in addition to theoretical training.

Since 2018, The Sidetrade Code Academy has seen an average of 53% year-on-year growth of applicants indicating its growing success and popularity in the West Midlands. What’s more, since its launch Sidetrade has offered 12 full time roles.

Luke Hennerley, Principal Engineer at Sidetrade and Creator of the Sidetrade Code Academy commented on the vision behind the programme: I was first inspired to help get Code Academy up and running because of my own experience starting a career in the world of tech. After taking a 12-month Software Developer apprenticeship, I believed there were better, quicker and more efficient ways to get into the industry.

Other coding bootcamps are often incredibly costly, time consuming, and offer no immediate job opportunities at the end. For someone just looking to learn and break into the tech industry, this can be very off-putting. I wanted to create a programme that was much more accessible, and gave real-world employment opportunities too, to help new entrants learn and grow their careers. To date, we’ve had huge success, and have built a team of tech talent who are hungry to learn more and continue growing.

Mark Sheldon, Chief Technology Officer of Sidetrade added: We had some fantastic talent on our latest Sidetrade Code Academy and are delighted to welcome three new hires to our teams. The programme, designed by our very own Sidetraders, is a very challenging curriculum, and all of the participants excelled themselves in rising to the challenge.

I am a firm believer in on-the-job training, particularly when it comes to more technical roles. As a CTO and employer, I really couldn’t care less about whether a new recruit has a degree or years of academic training under their belt. What I am more interested in is their attitude and desire to learn. The Sidetrade Code Academy is a fantastic initiative for this because it gives individuals – who might otherwise have been deterred from applying for a role in tech due to limited training – the opportunity to learn, grow and get their foot in the industry.