Initially he didn’t think such a thing would be possible, but after hearing about Ten10 Academy, Casey Prosser realized he could swap cappuccinos for coding as he embarked on a radical career change. Ten10 Academy focuses on recruiting, training and developing technologists, helping narrow the digital skills gap.
Here, recent graduate Prosser tells UNLEASH about how his job as a barista transformed into a life of IT wizardry.
We pick up the conversation as he talks about his surprising entry into the tech academy system…
Casey Prosser: I hear a lot of talk about the digital skills gap. I think it’s a real problem. And especially as technology changes the ways we work, it looks an increasing problem, especially for people who didn’t have that background, didn’t go into it at a younger age, or people from a different background who didn’t take that educational path.
But for me, it really worked out. I was very lucky in that I knew someone who knew the director of academy operations. It wasn’t that someone got me in, it was knowing someone who could get me to talk to someone in the industry, to help me understand that there are skills that I have.
Ten10 were happy to take applications from non-graduates, which I didn’t think people would be willing to do.
But if I hadn’t talked to someone who was involved in industry, at the time, I wouldn’t have known that there were things I could bring to the role.
S, I think academies are great because they aren’t apprenticeships, they aren’t degrees, they aren’t these paths that other people don’t feel open to. I thought, suddenly, they can take people who don’t have that background, and help them have that step into this world.
But they also can highlight that it’s not just necessarily the coding skills, the hard science background skills, there’s a lot that people need to bring into this industry; I think there’s more and more focus on soft skills, and communication within roles in software development.
And academies and programs like that can really help find the individuals that have those innate talents, and then upskill them to bring them into the industry.
Jon Kennard: From your experience, what do you think are the most useful digital skills that organizations would need going forward?
CP: I think in the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of talk about projects and and companies being held up by the lack of senior technologists. I think that tide has shifted now, and people are looking for people with a wider range of skills.
In my experience with the projects I’ve been working on, the disciplines seem to be blurring a little bit. And I think that people need to be the – with the fast pace of change in the industry – ready to learn continuously.
But in terms of the skills that people need, it is a mixture of those those soft skills and technology skills.
I think an understanding of coding but mixed in with great communication is key to people doing well going forwards. I know that on the projects that I’ve worked on recently, they have been held up at times by needing more coders and devs (developers).
But there’s also been roles that are key to every project now in terms of translating those business requirements into clear leads for the project. And I think in my experience, yeah, that’s that’s a key role.
JK: We talk a lot about generative AI now, and ChatGPT. Obviously, that’s the the one of the most people know, we’ve published a lot of pieces about its possible impact on HR. But I’d quite like to hear it from your perspective. Do you think it’s going to change/replace a lot of the digital skills that you’ve learned, or not? And if so, how do you think learners can stay on top of a very fast changing technology?
CP: I’ve only looked a little bit at generative AI, but not really in my working practice at all. But it’s really interesting, isn’t it? It’s definitely what everyone’s talking about. I think there’s a fair amount of fearmongering around it that is a little bit – I wouldn’t say irresponsible – but it’s engaging – that’s what your people are doom-scrolling, and they’re looking at it and worrying, which is completely understandable.
I personally take a non-pessimistic view of it – I think it’s definitely transformative. I think it looks like it’s shaping up to be the biggest change since we all got smartphones in our pockets.
It’s going to be really interesting times; when people say, ‘oh is it going to replace all of the digital skills I’ve learned?’ I only learned them in the last five years’. I think that’s what I was talking about, when I said about being prepared to learn continuously.
Personally, I’m interested to learn what these tools can do for us. I think that they are gonna really change the way people work, I think they already are. And there are people who are coding right now, and the way they approach that could change, which I think is I think it’s a really great thing, actually.
I mean, the number of projects I’ve been on where the ambition has scaled back and the MVP products re-scoped, because we’re constrained in the amount we can develop and deliver; the fact that we’re now going to have these technologies that make that quicker, I think that’s going to lead to a boom in the ability to deliver great product in the digital sector.
And I think I see a lot of analogies to the automation of assembly lines, things like that, this automation idea. And that led to less people banging on metal, but it didn’t lead to massive unemployment. And I think that’s the doom that some people have with these technologies. But I think it’s just going to change the way that we work.
And in the same way that automation lines make cars accessible, I hope it leads to a lot more accessibility in terms of technology, and digital products. And it will, I think, lead to fewer people needing to have the code knowledge, but in the same way that you can’t use a spell checker without knowing the language that you’re spell checking, you can’t just trust the algorithms.
There’s still going to be people who need to completely understand all of the things that those technologies are ingesting, to be able to provide answers; it (AI) will be a tool, it will be one that will make, hopefully, digital projects faster and more efficient. But it’s not going to completely replace any particular role.
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