Orthodox Jews are often excluded from careers in coding. That’s changing

Martin Bryant, February 24, 2017 2 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

In a world that needs a lots more coders, anything that makes a career in software development more accessible is a good thing. With that in mind, two members of the Manchester tech scene, David Levine of DigitalBridge and Tim Dempsey of Epiphany Capital, as well as Guy Mechlowitz CEO of ecommerce company Bargain Max, have set up a programme aimed at a group often excluded from professional coding careers – the orthodox Jewish community.

Orthodox Jewish men tend not to go to university, explains Levine. After finishing school, they often attend a seminary where they fine tune study of ancient Hebrew texts in a highly-charged academic environment. After that they go on to raise a family.

As Levine notes, that means there are lots of talented people who never attend university. He says studying Talmud requires a strong work ethic and a methodical, disciplined approach. That can be good preparation for the rigours of coding.

The Alef Beis Digital Academy offers a year-long course that trains students in the likes of C#, Javascript and MongoDB via two night classes per week plus homework. The course is taught by the head of Amaze’s Academy and is focused on developing employable skills. Students graduate at a level where they’re more skilled than apprentices, but not quite a junior developer.

In addition to the taught part of the course, Levine and Dempsey work hard at finding actual jobs for the graduates within the Manchester tech scene.

New opportunities

In the programme’s first year, 12 men graduated. Six of them now have jobs as programmers and dev-ops with companies like Amaze and DigitalBridge. This year, 10 will graduate, six are looking for a job and two others have already found one.

The academy has so far only catered for men, mainly due to demand. Levine says that as soon as they have enough interest from women, they’ll offer a course for them too.

For the future, Levine says the academy is considering a partnership with employers and more advanced coding schools . That will help Alef Beis serve more students and offer more help in getting graduates into their first job.

If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the academy’s website or contact david.levine@digitalbridge.eu.

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