Rescue move

CodeClan revival bid as Codebase acquires assets

Mark Logan: plan for relaunch (pic: Terry Murden)

Codebase, the tech start-up incubator, is acquiring the training materials and other assets of the collapsed skills academy CodeClan from the administrator.

The latest development, which will enable students to complete their courses from one of the techscaler sites, comes as Mark Logan, the Scottish government’s chief entrepreneur, said talks are underway to relaunch a digital training facility.

In the short term, students who cannot complete their courses in their original form, will be offered other arrangements.

Mr Logan said “intensive efforts” have been taking place to find a solution since the digital training centre plunged into administration without warning last Friday.

He said the Scottish Government will be assisting “with full funding to support the student training process, with further operational and material costs borne by Codebase”.

Mr Logan, who was appointed by former Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to help steer the government’s digital strategy, added: “I’m grateful to Stephen Coleman and Steven Drost of Codebase/Techscaler, Economy Minister Neil Gray and his team of officials in the Scottish Government, and Alistair Forbes of Scottish Tech Army for their involvement in putting this plan together in necessarily short timescales, during which many options were proposed and explored.

“In this regard it has been very heartening to see such a strong response from across Scotland’s business community to the situation.”

CodeClan’s collapse sent shockwaves through the tech sector

Assessing the failure of Codeclan, Mr Logan said the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review (STER) lists as one of its recommendations that: “CodeClan should be treated as a strategic ecosystem asset.” 

At the point where STER was published in 2020, CodeClan had already successfully demonstrated that it could take people who hadn’t previously worked in software engineering or data science, train them in an intensive, accelerated process and place them in tech companies.

“It’s strategic importance was, therefore, that it had effectively established a new channel of talent into Scotland’s tech ecosystem, one that hadn’t been previously available in practice, said Mr Logan.

“This has naturally raised questions as to why CodeClan was ‘allowed to fail’.”

He said CodeClan provided people from other disciplines to retrain as software engineers or data scientists in an intensive and accelerated fashion, and, subsequently, to enter the tech industry.

“That need has not gone away; Scotland must re-establish that channel, but in a way that is sustainable and fully relevant to current industry needs.

“But a private business has to be commercially viable as well as strategically important. CodeClan went into liquidation because its business model had become structurally unsustainable.”

Noting the comments of the administrator, he said: “Client companies were taking less(sic) graduates from CodeClan than before, revenues then fell, and the business became, and remained loss-making, over a period of time.”

Responding to those who have asked why no public money was being put into CodeClan, he said it was a private business that became structurally loss-making.

“Public money can only be injected into a private business according to strict legal constraints and rules. If independent analysis concludes that such an injection will not alter the long-term course of a business in the context of its forward plans, then it cannot be done.

“I have personally witnessed the intensive efforts undertaken to explore all possible avenues of support for CodeClan. The conclusions of this analysis were such that support in the form of public money could not be provided. While the outcome is unfortunate, we must respect the legal constraints placed upon such decision processes.”

Despite the restrictions imposed on the public sector, he said there was a determination to reinvigorate a training academy.

“We are certainly going to find a way to re-establish a sustainable, strategic talent channel into the tech sector, enabling people to retrain as software engineers and related roles from other disciplines,” he said.

“This endeavour will only be successful through the active involvement of Scotland’s business and tech community, ensuring that we are able to properly explore the changing needs of employers, to provide high-quality, relevant training programmes to meet those needs, and to determine a sustainable commercial model for their delivery.

“Given the overwhelming response from our collective community in offering support to people affected by CodeClan’s closure, I have no doubt that we’ll succeed.”

Comment: CodeClan deserves a re-boot

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