The launch of Andela in 2014 brought a new ray of hope to the Africa tech ecosystem. Starting out from their very first Amity Campus in Yaba, Lagos; the birth of Andela offered hope for engineering talent in Africa. Built on the premise that ‘’Talent is evenly distributed while opportunity is not”; Andela set out to address the issue of quality of software developers by training local entry-level developers to become globally competitive and keep them to work on projects for some of the biggest corporations across the world.
So far, Andela’s flagship program has impacted 30,000 Software Engineers. It represents over 1500 software developers by mediating between them and employers in the tech space. They have also worked with more than 200 tech companies worldwide.
As with any business venture however, there is a need to keep its bottomline while fulfilling the core mission. The case with Andela is not so different, the need to respond to market needs and meet the current market demand for experienced developers over their junior counterparts is what has led to the current restructuring and downsizing.
Andela’s Restructuring- Good or Bad?
For every organizational restructuring, there is an effect. The effect in this case is bitter-sweet. In a blog announcement titled ‘The Future of Andela’ by CEO, Jeremy Johnson; about 400 junior developers will be let go. ‘’We now have significantly more junior talent than we are able to place. Just as important, those junior engineers want, and deserve, authentic work experience that we are not able to provide. As a result, we’ve come to the conclusion that Andela’s next phase of growth requires a strategic shift in how we think about talent”, said Jeremy.
This presents an ironic situation as Andela who had previously prided itself as an enabler of talent in the ecosystem by recruiting and training entry-level developers now going all the way to let them go. This has led to reactions from the tech community, airing their opinions, especially via Twitter. (show some Twitter posts regarding the Andela matter).
Easy to get indignant and ignore that Universities should be doing this work and Andela is still training thousands of developers via @andela_alc. You can't force foreign clients to take what they produce in their backyard.
— E (@iaboyeji) September 17, 2019
Just to clarify things. I was one of the Engineers affected by the recent development at Andela. I joined Andela for one reason, my quest to grow and fill in the gaps I felt I needed to be well-grounded and have a very solid foundation in my career in a very short time.
— Orie Chinedu (@iam_nedsoft) September 18, 2019
We all saw this thing coming, with the rate at which Devs were being taken in.
It's one thing to take in people and another thing to provide the market for them.
I have several questions as regards this @Andela lay-offs:
What metrics do they classify junior-senior Devs with?
— Ada Nduka Oyom (@Kolokodess) September 17, 2019
Some have said that the firm considers this as a huge challenge for the tech ecosystem because it validates the claim that there might be no ready and valuable market for entry-level engineering talent. Many others think this might be useful for the ecosystem as this will translate to available tech talents for several organizations. This is already evident as we can see with Flutterwave’s move to host a Developer Fair to hold this Saturday and many other companies already rallying to onboard the embattled developers.
So since yesterday's news about @Andela, I've been thinking about what this means not just for Andela but the ecosystem as a whole. I already announced that we're hiring and although many people don't know, we (@theflutterwave) are one of the startups that have used Andela.
— GB 🦋 (@TechProd_Arch) September 18, 2019
For the uninitiated, the question begs: By what standards should we determine whether a developer is junior or senior? It is widely believed that Senior Developers are those experienced engineers are believed to perform various front and back maintenance with advanced software. It is not the same with Junior Developers who are mostly entry-level and have had 1-2 years and are probably still learning the nitty-gritty of software development. But well, Twitter NG thinks otherwise:
Unpopular opinion: If you wrote your first "Hello World" in 2017 and got your first job as a developer within the past 18 months, no way should you be using the term "Engineer" to describe yourself.
Only senior developers should be called Engineers. Don't devalue the term.
— David Hundeyin (@DavidHundeyin) September 18, 2019
Andela might be closing out on their foremost training model system, but this clearly isn’t the end for aspiring developers and developer training startups. Andela announced that they will still retain the Andela Learning Community and with the continuous rise of other ventures such as
With the likes of Lambda School, Decagon, StartNG, NESA by Makers, AISaturdays, amidst others; hope is still very much alive for developer training and pipeline talent in the Technology ecosystem across Africa.
Also, Andela’s plan to hire 700 experienced Software Engineers by 2020 to meet its business needs shows how large the market is for engineering talent and if nurtured, could prove to be a lucrative means of empowering people and improving our human capital export as a continent.
In the midst of all these, what we must not forget is that Andela is a child of necessity; one that is there because of the failings of the educational systems in many African countries. Interventions like Andela will be only support-infrastructure and not the main talent pipeline. One has to wonder the standard of technical education available to students of Computer science in our higher institutions and the inadequacy of training experiences from our Universities and
how/why these skills are not very useful in the workplace and in the current labour market, thereby making these youths unemployable; until they get quality technical education and experience from Andela and the likes and well, most developers are even self-taught with the support of video tutorials and online education sites.
Twitter Blacklash, What Next?
Twitter also went agog with the announcement as different people, including ex-Andeleans discussed their opinions on the sudden layoff.
In the face of the heated argument and retrenchment of Andelan Engineers, companies like Flutterwave and others have put out a call for those laid off to apply
Me: is it the right time to announce that we're hiring front-end: Vuejs; Backend: Java and C# and devops engineers ?
Inner me: why?
Me: Might be misunderstood
— GB 🦋 (@TechProd_Arch) September 17, 2019
One man’s disadvantage is another’s advantage! Don’t you think?
Quite impressively, Andela also have plans for companies willing to hire the affected developers as Seni Sulyman announced in this tweet:
2/ For all companies interested in hiring Engineers affected by the @Andela restructure, kindly fill out this form and a member of the team will reach out to you with next steps. https://t.co/JTI8VFDTCq.
— Seni Sulyman (@senisulyman) September 18, 2019
In all, the tech space is growing and expansive enough for Developers and Software Engineers to thrive. Beyond Andela, we look forward to seeing more companies like Decagon, Start.ng, Codelagos, Wecode and Shecodes Africa take the lead to train and place software developers while helping them thrive in an ever-growing tech ecosystem.
Interesting times are here, and we wish the Tech Community all the best!
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