How Codecademy Helps Generation Train Job-Ready Java Developers

October 21, 2022 | Activate Learning | 6 min read

Some people land careers in tech after pursuing a degree in computer science, completing an internship and starting full-time as a developer or engineer or programmer.

College, graduation, job.

That's the more traditional route.

For learners who come to Generation, their education backgrounds tend to stray from ordinary. Their arrival to the world of tech often comes after a few twists and turns.

A global non-profit, Generation helps people achieve economic mobility for themselves and their families through employment programs that help them become job-ready for roles in several industries, including tech. Generation trains and places people into careers that would be otherwise inaccessible to them.

And it turns out, most employers say graduates of these programs meet or exceed their expectations.

"Across Generation programs, 82% of employers say the Generation grads they hire are as good or better than hires of more traditional backgrounds," said Dana Lee, regional director of curriculum and instruction at Generation.

Dana and I discussed the ways Generation has transitioned its employment programs to adapt to a post-pandemic era.

You can watch our full conversation here.

The success of programs at Generation stems from the rapid change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before 2020, technical roles were a smaller portion of Generation's portfolio. After the pandemic hit, they began focusing more on technical roles due to the rising demand for people with skills who could help their organizations navigate rapid digital transformations.

However, most of their programs relied on in-person training. Like many, Generation needed to quickly rethink its approach. They needed to adapt to unprecedented times.

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The Pandemic Disrupted In-Person Training, Forcing Generation to Pivot

Historically, Dana's focus on developing curricula for Generation centered on live, instructor-led training. Learners would come to class in a computer lab, where an instructor guided the lesson.

The outbreak led to tightened restrictions for gatherings, preventing Generation from hosting these classes. During this time, in-person training came to grinding halt. “That curriculum wasn’t going to work in a post-covid world, where so much of our programming had to be done online,” she said.

Now, they had to deliver training digitally and needed help to do so.

Going to the marketplace, they discovered an array of options, but many that wouldn't work.

As a non-profit with 16 affiliates around the world, Generation needed a scalable, budget-conscious partner whose pedagogy aligned with their standards for training.

The focus on developing skills for highly technical roles in short, intensive programs demanded that Generation's programs only include essential material. The delivery of material also needed to be simple and flexible enough to adapt to Generation's existing programs or ones the team would offer in the future. But at the end of the day, this partner would need to work for the learner.

"For us, it comes down to our learner profile," Dana said. "Our learner profile is typically someone for whom traditional education did not fulfill its promise."

Searching the marketplace, Dana and her team found several solutions that were too expensive or too unreliable. That was, until they found Codecademy.

Generation Enlists Codecademy to Bolster Training in JavaScript, Java and React

Earlier in the pandemic, Dana's team focused on two programs: junior web developer and junior Java developer.

Since in-person training was no more for the foreseeable future, everything went digital. The programs became a mix of instructor-led training done virtually, supported by Codecademy's self-paced courses for programming languages, like JavaScript, Java and React. Dana calls it "sync-async, where we integrate an instructor-led experience with the content from Codecademy."

Learning in this way is a balance between the two modes: synchronous and asynchronous. Sometimes, learners are with a group and instructor. They discuss concepts, build off one another, and receive live instruction. Then part of the time is dedicated to self-paced learning, moving through a series of modules to complete objectives.

The balance of these two styles is something Dana says Generation is always fine-tuning. Her team wants to create an optimal learning experience for learners who rely on Generation to land opportunities, but it's also to help alleviate the workload on technical instructors, who are hard to come by.

"We have found it's increasingly difficult to find excellent technical instructors, who are also willing to take on other aspects of Generation's curriculum methodology," she said.

Generation looks for instructors who can manage curricula that integrates behavioral skills into their teachings, in addition to job-readiness work like mock interviews or code challenges. These types of skills are "all these things a new technologist needs to be able to do in the market," Dana said.

Generation recognized Codecademy as the best training provider to help support these two programs, and here's why:

  • The user experience and administration — Codecademy's interactive platform helps communicate complex material in a way that doesn't intimidate learners. Helpful guidance makes sure they can get "unstuck" and continue making progress. What's more, the solution was simple to integrate with Generation's methods of training.

  • Data and reporting — Dana's team blended their traditional approach of instructor-led training with Codecademy’s learning material and platform. This "sync-async" approach allowed Generation to leverage training data and equip instructors with metrics to influence their interactions with learners.

  • Quality and practice — More than any other provider, Codecademy allowed learners to practice in a reliable environment. Dana found other options on the market that seemed hopeful, but there was no guarantee of reliability long term. That's a dealbreaker when people's careers are on the line. Further, Codecademy's in-house team of curriculum experts constantly works to raise the quality and relevance of its content.

  • Value — As a non-profit, the cost of the content had to work with Generation's budget. Searching for other options, Dana says she found providers that were five times more expensive. "It was a delight that we didn't have to sacrifice anything with Codecademy to get to the price point that worked for us," she said.

Codecademy and Generation Help People Earn the Skills to Land In-demand Developer Jobs

Generation deployed Codecademy to seven of its 16 global affiliates, with hopes to expand to other regions. That's roughly 1,500 people working toward a career that may not have been attainable for them before.

These learners often face a different set of obstacles coming into tech. Some don't have the education that a more traditional developer has had. It can be a long, tough journey for some, but with help from Generation, learners find careers that provide them with new opportunities.

It's also mutually beneficial. Organizations of all kinds struggle to hire qualified candidates who have skills in programming languages like Python, Java, JavaScript and several others. For many, Generation has become an essential avenue through which both employers and individuals flourish with highly applicable tech skills.

Dana has seen Generation's Java program excel, placing 90% of learners within 180 days of completing the program. Those same learners also get salaries that are 3.43 times higher on average. "Codecademy has been a big part of that success for us," Dana said.

It's outcomes like these that Dana and her team use to benchmark their success. For the last two years, Generation and Codecademy have partnered in support of this mission and to continue improving the delivery of technical training to people and organizations that will benefit from reskilling and upskilling.

Codecademy for Enterprise has helped thousands onboard faster (50% faster, in fact!), close skill gaps, and become more productive at work. Start a free two-week trial of Codecademy for Enterprise to see how its immersive learning platform can support your team's development.