Coding school aims to address Sydney startups' skills shortage

Sydney Dev Camp gears up for first semester

What Australia really needs is more coders, according to Danila Davidson.

Davidson is the founder of Sydney Dev Camp, a new organisation that offers participants a 10-week crash course in coding using Ruby on Rails. The school, whose first program is beginning in April, is modelled on similar efforts overseas.

"You've got about 20 of these schools in the US; they're popping up like mushrooms," Davidson said.

Davidson began to market the idea in November last year among startup founders and accelerators and found a receptive audience, she said.

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The course is designed to equip students with basic coding skills to enable them to either join startups or found their own.

"Coding enables people to build products, such as Web apps, that can really improve other people's lives, and coding enables people to launch their own businesses," Davidson said.

However, Davidson said that coding skills were in short supply, especially for startups. The main issue from the perspective of Australian startups is the shortage of entry-level programmers.

"Those [coders] who are often on the market are often very senior," said Davidson, "which means that they most likely are freelancing, they're very expensive, they're really hard to get, they're never going to work for a startup."

"If you're a guy in a tech startup and you've got a business background you're going have a very hard time finding a tech co-founder; it's very hard," Davidson said.

"On the other side if you just want to build your own hack or website and you don't have coding skills, you won't be able to get anybody on board.

"This is the kind of problem I want to solve."

Davidson wants to create "professional, entry-level coders" who will either join an existing startup or found their own.

Joining Davidson is former IBM software consultant Pete Argent, who is Sydney Dev Camp's chief instructor.

Class size for the first intake will be limited to 10 people, which Davidson said compares favourably with similar training programs in the US. Davidson is keen to keep classes small, although if the program gets good take-up the school will look at running concurrent programs.

Davidson said that there were still several slots open for the first session, which starts on 3 April. Participants are not required to have any previous coding experience, she said.

Rohan Pearce is the editor of Techworld Australia and Computerworld Australia. Contact him at rohan_pearce at

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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