on November 07, 2017
Around this time last year, my co-founder Gordon Lau and I first met. We had observed a very concerning reoccurring pattern. Start-up progress and innovation in Hong Kong was being significantly hindered by a desperate need for software engineering talent. We saw first-hand how the most important driver of innovation is the management, rewards, and development of the right human capital.
With the multi-fold rise in computing power and new end-case possibilities in artificial intelligence, the demand for jobs requiring routine knowledge work is going to decrease.
Amidst increasing automation, most non-creative jobs (e.g. travel agents, truck drivers, back-office workers and customer service representatives) are going to disappear causing societies to rethink the future of work and professionals to educate themselves with new skills.
We are continually inspired by the transformative success of our students. Since February, 90%+ of students who worked with Xccelerate career services have accelerated their career successfully and fruitfully. As Xccelerate approaches our fifth software engineering immersive program, I would like to outline what makes Xccelerate unique amongst the myriad learning options ranging from online MOOCs (e.g. EDx, Coursera, Treehouse etc) and offline bootcamps (e.g. General Assembly).
We believe in education’s ability to reshape lives. Before Xccelerate, a local Hong Kong professional seeking to switch careers into software engineering would have only a handful of options:
Whether it’s a four-year university or traditional coding bootcamp, many students are sometimes forced to give up their life savings or take on massive debt to afford education. At Xccelerate, our founding belief is that no obstacle should come in the way of incredibly talented students unleashing their dreams and goals.
Xccelerate charges the bulk of tuition after students are placed with the option to spread instalments over six months. We do ask for a deposit up front to guarantee attendance and place value on the experience.
This reduces the financial burden on students and minimises the risks associated with switching careers. By charging 15% of their first year’s salary, Xccelerate aligns incentives to make sure both parties are focused on the only metric that matters: student success.
Such an education is socially aligned and was recently featured in Tech in Asia.
Technology is disrupting every facet of every job in every sector. Empowering students to learn, debugging and best practices in writing code will drive innovation, entrepreneurship and it’s a better way to meet the demands of new jobs.
In Hong Kong, much of what constitutes as learning involves meticulous rote-memorising facts for exams and focusing on notes from instructor lectures. While the recent computer revolution has transformed the world in 20 years, our education system has failed to keep up with the new skills required to succeed. A look at the McKinsey 2015 report, Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works, posits that formal education systems are not adequately preparing today’s youth with the training and skills required for the job market.
We took a different approach. We prioritise active learning as our core pedagogy.
Active learning forces each student to be involved and in-charge of taking ownership of their education as much as we are. Students come in every day to teach themselves coding, along with the support of instructors, causing them to be self-reliant and independent learners as they overcome 1,000 hours worth of project-based curriculum.
Using powerpoint lectures typically connotes an educational pedagogy of one size fits all.
Yet, as traditional education evolves and professionals need to adapt to the workplace of the future, we realise that just the opposite is true. At Xccelerate, we embrace that every student has their own learning style and pace. Active learning allows us to accommodate different learning preferences and speeds whilst maximising educational outcomes.
Between learning weeks and project weeks, we emphasise problem-based learning so that students are challenged to apply their knowledge to real-world projects and they need to continually redefine their solutions. We also emulate a real-world agile software engineering environment of leading Silicon Valley tech companies where each Xccelerate student practices a daily stand-up prior to working on the day’s projects.
When you bring together a group of incredibly talented and and motivated students, the results are spectacular. Our students come from all walks of life whether it’s healthcare or banking, young or old, executive or fresh grad. Such diversity of perspectives enriches the student experience in and outside of the classroom.
Joining Xccelerate is an investment into your professional network and enhances life-long friendships with peers who choose to be amazing every single day. We work hard to foster community through activities, events and other initiatives.
We believe people learn best when they are surrounded and inspired by other outstanding learners. Self-taught online learning imparts technical skills only, whereas we prepare students with interpersonal skills needed for effective teamwork and experience working on a product from start to finish.
The most important asset of Xccelerate is the caliber of our graduates. It is precisely through the quality of learning and outcomes that propel our network of 50+ employers.
For many millennial’s, getting a job always raises the question of choosing income vs. passion and purpose. Our student outcomes team sits with students on an individual basis to identify what sort of career options and employers find that right balance.
Every student has a different desired career path whether it’s being an entrepreneur or getting a more structured role in an established company. Our network of hiring partners allows us to help you efficiently conclude the job searching process so that you land jobs in weeks, not months.
I’m proud to say that in our last cohort (graduating September 2017), 100% of students received a qualifying job offer within five weeks of graduation. The average time for a boot camp student to receive an offer at most institutions ranges anywhere from 3 to 9 months or longer.
We achieved such success through careful planning and prioritising the most effective places for students to interview before they graduate. This data-driven approach saves both hiring partners and us time and allows students to focus on their best interviews.
It also minimises time spent sending resumes to hundreds of places with no results to show for.
Xccelerate is a high-performance team of dreamers, educators and technologists who care deeply out transformational outcomes. The team at Xccelerate works hard. Xccelerate grew recently from 4 members to 12. I am inspired to work alongside team members that place such passion for Accelerating student success.
The team is committed to providing a rapidly iterating in-class pedagogy, curriculum design and execution. From data collection to outcomes assessments, we invest in processes to make sure that we are consistently improving the best experience for our students. As with all start-ups, feedback cycles and iteration is an ongoing process but 1% improvements compound into major returns.
**A message to interested students: **
Setting aside hype, there is clearly a significant demand for coding, AI and UX professionals with practical skills. It is also clear that the traditional education system is not churning out graduates with the level of readiness that employers are looking for, and that a bootcamp model might be the right option for you to move onto a new, more rewarding career. Given the short duration and intensity, our bootcamps aim to be one of the most practical training grounds to fill the talent shortages quickly and effectively.
Globally, the tech talent skills shortage is unprecedented providing us plenty of opportunity for Xccelerate and you to work on the same team and make an impact.
In the end, what students are looking for all boils down to one question – is it worth it? If you’re afraid to put the time into learning a new skill or are not sure if taking a break from your career will pay-of or worry that you might not actually succeed in a new role, reach out to us! It’s more than likely that if you are passionate and capable a successful and meaningful tech career transition is just down the road.
Learning the skills of the future and preparing for tomorrow’s workforce is crucial no matter what industry you work in on prior educational background.