Who is Dean Jenkins?
In 2005, at the age of 15, I was told I had the reading age of an eight-year old. I grew up with dyslexia and dyscalculia, meaning I left school with few prospects. But now, eleven years later, I’m the Managing Director of start-up Codez Academy.
What is Codez Academy and why did you set it up?
After going through my school life and not having a great education, I decided to start teaching vocational skills; how to build websites and applications, that sort of thing. That planted an idea in my head, and Codez Academy was born.
The first course we ever did was with an eight-year old, teaching them how to build a website in HTML/CSS.
But Codez Academy isn’t just about teaching children how to code. What makes it different is the appetite to teach adults a set of skills that are so alien to many.
What challenges have you faced on the way?
It has been difficult getting the business started, trying to find clients and networking to continue to make the company grow. It has also been a challenge to maintain a healthy growth with the company and keep the financial part maintained, understanding how to keep the business afloat.
What does Codez Academy do with The Prince's Trust?
Codez Academy were lucky enough to start working with The Prince’s Trust on a week-long Get Started with Apps course in 2016. From there, we were contacted about running further courses that complemented The Trust’s STEM strategy, engaging students in coding.
We went on to create a three week Get into programme around digital skills, where we taught the basics of coding. By the end of the programme, the young people had all produced a fully-functioning website and completed work experience with various companies in the tech industry.
Why is it important to engage young people in STEM/computer science skills?
It is important to get children into digital coding before the age of 16 so they have the possibility of going straight into work if that’s the route they want to go down.
What advice would you give to young people?
That you can be whoever you want to be if you believe in yourself.
What are your aspirations for the future?
On a personal note, I know I’ve come a long way having struggled with unemployment and various back operations, and I’m proud of where we are. In 2015 I was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Caerphilly Business Forum Awards. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels, I have a genuine appetite to teach coding, to prepare adults and children for a working future and I want to continue expanding Codez to help as many people as possible.