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Renzoku is Victoria’s First Tech Apprenticeship-based School

Renzoku is Victoria’s First Tech Apprenticeship-based School

Technology Sector VIATEC Member News CEO

Conversation with Chris Yue, CEO of Renzoku Tech School. The immersive one-year training program is deeply embedded in industry and, through a hands-on approach, aims to lower barriers of entry in the sector.

Why did you start Renzoku?

Victoria is known to have a shortage of tech talent. That’s where the idea for Renzoku came from — wanting to solve that issue for young people who might have a degree but not the right experience or those that would prefer to learn tech like a “trade” rather than an academic pursuit.

We’re hearing from businesses that are saying, ‘we really need to hire 10 people.’ But there aren’t 10 people because of this big drain on competent people — they’re being lured elsewhere for bigger salaries and other reasons. Or they get people that are coming through that are great in the classroom, but they don’t have enough in their portfolio or enough experience. Do you risk it from the company point of view?

Our program is geared to try to bridge those two things. 

Why do companies need talent?

Companies have always wanted to hire the best people. But with COVID, you no longer need to live in Silicon Valley and people started recruiting around the world. A lot of good developers that were in Victoria can now work in San Francisco without having to live in San Francisco. We lost a good number of people there.

What are the skills that companies are saying they need?

We’re hearing there is a big need for full stack or web developers. The other one is around sales and managing client bases. Victoria has some really great companies that are doing very well in the whole grand scheme of things — they’re competing globally. In the past, a successful startup in Victoria might have 25 or 30 people. Now the successful startups have upwards of 100. 

They’re wanting to bring people up, that are local, in terms of sales and developing client bases. That’s what Renzoku tries to do — we call business tech, which is the customer facing side of the business, and then the web development, which might be more than the development back side of things.

What is the tech training landscape like? What kind of competition are you up against?

More traditional tracks, like UVic or Camosun, can be a bit long for some people — two to four years. By the time they get experience, it’s another tech and another year on top of that. The other option is on the opposite end of that spectrum — three month boot camps. They’re great. They meet a need, particularly for people that are mid-career and only have three months or six months to devote to it. And so they’re learning in this intensive program. But it’s a lot of information to take in three months. 

We’re trying to bridge the gap that’s there. We just want to get as many people into tech as we can. Industry likes it. We’re of the deep belief that rising tide raises all boats. We don’t feel in competition with the boot camps or the traditional institutions, we think they’re great. They’re just not for everybody, just like we’re not for everybody.

And so the more we can find those people and give them opportunities to come into tech, I think it’s better for everybody.

Why is it called Renzoku?

It means continuous in Japanese, our hope would be that our apprentices would continue seamlessly from education into practice and vice versa. The idea was, they start with us, and at the end of one year, if we’ve done our job well, they work with the company. It’s just a natural progression, you don’t have to go and get a job. It’s partly a continuous learning, but also a continuum between Renzoku and the companies. 

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Media Contact : Carla Sorrell

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