It’s a big question and it’s being asked more and more – is the training at Australian universities preparing graduates who are fully prepared to work in the ICT sector? According to a recent survey from the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the answer is no.
Australian tech companies deemed just 5% of VET and university graduates as being properly job-ready in the survey. Moreover, a whopping 49% said tertiary graduates were not ready to work without “significant further training” (source: AIIA Digital State of the Nation 2022).
Clearly, we have a problem. The issues seems to be that at university we carry out the traditional mode of learning where we watch lectures, take notes and do exams. This is how we have learnt in school and we go on to do a similar form of learning at university.
Traditional learning methods
Watch, listen, memorise, repeat – this is the style of learning which is the mainstay within traditional educational institutions, suggesting that it is effective when it comes to the acquisition of knowledge.
For knowledge – it probably is effective. But what about the acquisition of skills? In this traditional lecture-memorisation model there’s limited opportunity for the practical application of knowledge in a real-world environment. As a result, graduates often leave University unprepared for the workforce – they know the theory, but they don’t know how to apply it. This is nowhere more true than in the IT industry.
Holberton School – an alternative to the traditional education method
An alternative to traditional educational pathways is the Holberton School which leverages a highly pragmatic curriculum to produce job-ready software engineers in just nine months. There are no lectures or formal classes – instead, students learn by doing – as they complete a sequence of weekly projects alongside their peers.
According to the founder of Holberton School in Australia, Emmanuel Goutallier: “Holberton School is hyper-focused on preparing students for a career – not for an exam. Students are encouraged to think, act and behave like working software engineers as they progress through their projects and collaborate with their peers.”
Goutallier adds that after launching an inaugural cohort in January 2022 in Melbourne this year, the results of this approach are starting to show: “Seven of the 9 students who started in January have secured employment before completing the course, reflecting both the quality of the curriculum and strong validation from the industry,” he says.
“With three cohorts each year, Holberton School presents prospective tech workers with an educational pathway that promises to have them job-ready, and presents employers with a pipeline of talent which requires minimal additional investment upon hiring,” Goutallier adds.
Holberton School students have this to say:
Karoline Silva started a course in Software Engineering in February of this year at Holberton School in Melbourne and she says: “Going in, I thought, well, could I really call myself a software engineer just because I’ve spent nine months learning how to code? But now as we move through, I can see – OK – yeah. I’m actually getting that depth of knowledge that would give me hopefully the right to call myself a junior software engineer. So that’s blowing my mind.”
Cienna Nguyen started the same course this year and she says: “I think to me, the way how Holberton teachers learn is literally simulate the reality because in reality, you’re not going to have a teacher or anyone following you to giving you answers. Like, you have to rely on yourself. So how Holberton does this is to pretty much just like give you a project, give you a problem – just how you would at a company. I think this is a really smart way of teaching. It’s not like traditional teaching where you read the books and then you find the answer at the end of the book. It’s all about the skills that you learn throughout all of this.”
Gem Pham started the Software Engineering course as well and she adds: “Yes, I think so. I’ve spoken to some of Holberton’s partners and they said we’ll be eligible to apply for junior positions – not just grad positions. They said this is because the skills we learn from collaboration, whiteboarding and live coding, are the skills required to work in a junior role. I was surprised when I heard this, because studying a bachelor degree takes three years and then they do the grad program. Whereas, we study for 9 months at Holberton and are eligible for a junior position.”
For more from Women Love Tech about Holberton School, visit here.