AI firm launches code academy

AI firm Sidetrade has announced the launch of The Code Academy at its Birmingham office which will provide a four-week training programme for 12 graduates, with four data and software jobs up for grabs at the end.

The Academy is a coding bootcamp comparable to programmes in the UK such as General Assembly, Le Wagon, and Flatiron School, but distinguishes itself by its focus on the Midlands, workplace experience, and a chance to secure a data or software engineering job at the end.

Sidetrade will offer the programme free of charge, investing their own money and resources to run the academy. The course will be held at The Spaces, in central Birmingham.

Mark Sheldon, chief technology officer at Sidetrade, said: “Coding is a very important skill set, and we want to see more young people from a range of backgrounds getting a foot in the door. They need to be equipped for the new, emerging workforce when it comes to data science and AI. This can be achieved with fast-paced, job-ready tech programmes. Our Code Academy is designed to turn talented people into data and software engineers, quickly and affordably. It’s life-changing for them. They learn cutting-edge AI standards and work, one-on-one, with professional mentors in the field.”

The Code Academy is the brainchild of Luke Hennerley, lead application engineer at Sidetrade, who wanted to see a disruptive form of training, and new paths into the AI industry.

He said: “We’re doing something special at Sidetrade: The Code Academy welcomes applicants who might not have a degree in a computing related subject, but who have a demonstrable interest in AI. It’s a great way to increase intellectual diversity and innovate with fresh eyes. We’re taking candidates from zero to full stack developer.”

Following an assessment day on 25 September, the 12 successful students will spend 150 hours with data scientists and data engineers, learning the fundamentals of real-life AI for business.
Sidetrade aims to create 18 new AI-related jobs in 2020. Tech teams are currently spread across Birmingham, Paris, Dublin, and London. The Birmingham office, which already employs 16 full-time staff, is set to expand as it relocates to a new office in central Birmingham.

The Code Academy, which was piloted last year, is part of Sidetrade’s commitment to providing engineering skills and jobs for young people in the Midlands, to keep the UK at the forefront of the AI industry.

The pilot programme of The Code Academy saw three candidates secure jobs with Sidetrade in 2018. They were Kieran Raine, 26, a music technology graduate from Coventry University; Thomas Hendry, 21, who graduated in 2018 from Aston University with a degree in computer science and business; and James Mason-Durst, 23, who also graduated in 2018 from Birmingham University with a degree in theoretical physics and applied Mathematics.


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