Why we’ve created [re]start – Part Two

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about why we decided to create [re]start. That article became longer than I ever expected, so I decided to split it into two parts.

Traditional education is an exercise in constraints

University degrees and and college education are constantly playing a battle of compromise and constraints. They’re being squeezed by management. Management often won’t know the individual subjects they are trying to manage and will make decisions based on that (lack of) knowledge.

We felt squeezed and constrained in a traditional education environment. What if we wanted people to get their qualification in a year instead of two? We weren’t allowed to do it because it “just wasn’t done”. What if we wanted students to do work for real businesses and get paid? We had to compromise on this because it “just wasn’t done”.

There’s a lot of conservatism in traditional education that battles against the modern attitude of the creative and digital industries. In the industry, we don’t like doing things the way they’ve always been done “just because”, and that isn’t an attitude we like to teach our students. But how can we possibly instil this attitude in them if we ourselves are surrounded by that environment?

The whole reason [re]start became 14 weeks is because we wanted to test how far we could take a simple question. We asked: “how quickly we could train somebody to get their first job in the industry?”, and we came up with the answer of 14 weeks.

At first this may look like a compromise by making it shorter. Our students receive 9-5 tuition 4 days a week for 14 weeks. We aren’t doing anything “just because”.

There’s no such thing as a job for life

You used to start a job when you were 18 and stay in the same job until you retired. Things move quicker than ever now and no job is for certain. Training for any job for 3 years and hoping that it remains the same by the time you’ve graduated is a gamble. Our industry is moving quickly and doesn’t stand still for 3 years.

We needed to find a way to teach people as quickly as possible to get into the industry so their knowledge stayed relevant.

Future-proofing somebody’s skills

Our focus on teaching people a range of skills might seem strange at first glance. We don’t teach people to be web designers or coders or anything specific, we introduce our students to the entire breadth of the creative and digital industry.

Obviously we’re not doing this by accident. Our belief is by introducing our students to the whole range of skills that our industry needs it future-proofs them for their entire career. If they start as a web designer they’ll have the skills to be able to start a career as a coder later on, because we’ll have introduced them to these skills already.

Agencies are constantly looking for staff that are multi-skilled and can drop straight into their agency. A graduate with a very specific skillset instantly reduces their job opportunities.

The skills gap

In the UK alone, 83% of businesses say that access to digital talent is their biggest concern. The lack of people with digital skills to employ is estimated to be costing the UK £63 billion per year. It’s no exaggeration to call this a skills crisis, as so many people do.

Put simply, we need more people with digital skills than are being produced by education. And not just a few more either: lots more. We felt by training people up faster and more often would help us do our bit for the UK skills gap.

A more agile approach to teaching

We want to prove that a more agile approach to teaching is possible.

We want to prove that you don’t need a dusty curriculum carved in stone and signed off by 35 “experts” to teach people the skills to get a job.

We want to prove that even in an industry that sometimes feels like it changes every week it’s possible to stay relevant.

No small feat there, eh?