By Lauryn Yowa 03 March 2021

MaionaCoding’s first training cohort at the Albany, Deptford, South London

The Creative Coding Collective (CCC) is a partnership between the Albany, MaionaCoding and Lewisham Homes (LH) delivering free computer coding training to young people (YP) 16-21 living in Lewisham. This program is funded by the GLA through the Young Londoners Fund. The aim is to decrease economic inequality and increase the diversity of the tech sector by training young people in Lewisham and preparing them for work in IT and tech.

The first cohort of 18 participants began training in the fundamentals of programming for the internet. They were aged between 16 and 25. Participants were from varied backgrounds and ethnicities, selected from a pool of around 45 applicants. The start of the program was delayed due to the pandemic. We were able to begin in October with socially distanced training, however with the second lockdown we reverted to online deliver. This proved successful and we were able to get laptops for those who needed them. The first cohort of YP have shown a lot of enthusiasm and achieved some amazing outcomes already with our first YP entering paid job placements with 3 companies..

Students learning with laptops at a training room
First cohort of trainees at the Albany training room, Deptford

Methodology

Over a period of six weeks, participants would be introduced to a concept in class. They would then experiment and develop this concept on their own time, and bring it to a ‘show and tell’ session on the next class.

“It has opened up a lot of doors to me, starting coding can be quite intimidating but it has helped
me learn really quickly”

– Mikhaila, course participant

They put together two projects, including a ‘shopping list’ mobile application and an online JavaScript based game.

“I’ve learnt so much this programme, it was honestly a blessing. I’m confident that this will open up many doors for me as well as me opening doors for myself. Jagan and Dan [trainers] did an excellent job. Many more people can learn from this and create opportunities to participate in projects themselves.”

– Lauryn, course participant

They also explored a bird’s eye view of SQL, as data is the new digital gold, and anyone who wants to be in the tech industry needs to know how to query databases.

They were then introduced to the world’s most popular Content Management System ‘WordPress’ and created their first website using WordPress.

Trainees were then were introduced to GitHub, to store their project code and be able to demo their projects to build a portfolio.

Finally, they were introduced to mock interviews by real-life recruiters and tech managers, and then introduced to their work placements.

Work placements were found at United Living, Bladonmore media and Phantom Digital.

“…it has developed my knowledge in coding and widened my future career opportunities.”
“…it was fun learning coding”
“I’ve really enjoyed my time on the course, I’ve learnt a lot in a short space of time.”
“The instructors are really helpful and welcoming.”
“The trainers were very helpful and made everything easy to understand using real life
experiences.”
“The instructors are really helpful and welcoming.”
“I am actively trying out new frameworks and engines to create things. I have applied to uni for
mathematics and computer science because I’ve enjoyed it so much.”
‘“I’ve got a wider knowledge of different programs and frameworks which I’ve never heard which
I’m very much happy to add to my projects.”
“[I’ve gained] the ability to use HTML, CSS and Javascript”
“My knowledge of coding and web design has improved and it will help my future endeavours in
web designing.”

– Course participants feedback

Conclusion

It has been a challenge running the program through the pandemic. This is mainly due to the uncertainty this has created for us running the program and companies who provide the job placements. However we’ve managed to make a great start. We need to continue tracking the outcomes for those who enter job placements and receive mentoring. We had to reduce the number of YP who began the training so we could practice social distancing, however now we are able to deliver online future cohorts will be larger. We plan to start with 20 and have 15 finishers. This will increase the outputs and outcomes for each cohort. We have done well promoting the program with 45 applications for the first cohort. We will continue to work with LH to ensure YP at most risk of exclusion join the program. We also need to work with the Youth Offending Service in Lewisham to increase the numbers of YP who have been involved with the criminal justice system. Overall the program has been a huge success and we look forward to working with more YP.

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