A free two-year coding school that offers students a guaranteed job at a top tech firm has launched in London.
01 Founders is now accepting applications for its first school in the capital, where learners are offered two years of on-campus training with zero tuition fees followed by two years of employment.
The coding push is part of a scheme aimed at training up 100,000 software engineers by the end of the decade.
Founding partner companies include fitness platform Peloton, AI company Faculty and website provider Nominet.
A host of other high-tech British tech firms, including some that have listed recently, are understood to be in talks over taking part in the programme.
The initiative was co-founded by serial entrepreneur Brent Hoberman through his Founders Forum initiative. Hoberman rose to prominence after founding lastminute.com, while his Made.com furniture retailer is currently gearing up for a £1bn London stock market float.
Nicolas Sadirac of 01Edu and London further education group Capital City College Group also set up the venture.
It is backed by Kathleen Breitman, founder of blockchain network Tezos, while Lord Vaizey is among its advisers.
Bridging the tech diversity gap
01 Founders has set out a mission to improve diversity within the UK tech sector, as well as bridging the digital skills gap.
“We’re trying to solve the diversity in tech challenge,” chief executive Joysy John told City A.M. “There are a lot of people who have the talent but don’t have the opportunity”.
John added that there was “huge” demand for tech talent, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, but that recruitment was being held back by a lack of diversity as well as the lack of exposure to digital skills in UK curriculums.
01 Founders will aim to address the lack of diverse role models and tackle gender stereotypes in the industry, she said.
As part of this mission, the scheme has set a target of achieving 50 per cent women, 30 per cent ethnic minorities and 50 per cent individuals from underrepresented backgrounds on its course.
Scholarships are also being offered by donors to cover students’ maintenance expenses.
“We’re delighted to be the first to bring this coding school model to the UK,” said Hoberman. “The lower cost peer-to-peer learning aspect enables us to scale this platform quickly across the nation, ensuring that we are able to deliver free-to-access technical education to huge numbers of people across the UK.”
The first cohort of 250 students will start at 01 Founder’s first London school in October this year.
Students are pre-selected based on a short cognitive test, followed by a month-long selection pool over the summer.
The course is powered by 01Edu and offers teacherless training, with students solving gamified projects at their own pace and learning from peers.
The venture aims to set up between 20 and 30 schools in the UK and Ireland and ink around 20 tech firm partnerships over the next three years.
It is now welcoming talks with companies interested in partnering on the scheme or providing grants for students. More information can be found on the 01 Founders website.