The Dubai-based entrepreneurship platform Astrolabs is set to launch one of its latest components, the Astrolabs Academy, which will offer a series of short, content-intense courses meant to enhance the talent pool available to tech startups in the region.
“Astrolabs Academy is meant to bridge the gap of talent that any startup founder, and for that reason, any tech company in the region, faces when they look for talent,”says Louis Lebbos, one of Astrolabs’ two founding partners. “The vision is for it to be the destination for where startups/tech companies go to recruit people who are well trained in very practical functions.”
The Academy is expected to go live in the beginning of next year, but over the next six weeks the Astrolabs team will be testing the waters with two pilot courses. The first course, entitled “Navigating Google Analytics: From Setup to Customization,”will be held on November 1st and will teach participants the ins and outs of the statistical service via a hands-on workshop format.
The second course, “Experience Design Fundamentals: Foundations to Journey Mapping,”will explore the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) aspects of digital design over the course of two days. Astrolabs is bringing in two expert practitioners from the US to lead the course.
The classes will be in-depth, but at the same time “accessible to everyone… but they will push someone with expertise even further,”explains Lebbos.
The technical skills required for tech startups to operate effectively will be reflected by the Astrolabs Academy course list, which will feature topics such as digital marketing, web and mobile analytics, coding, web development, UX/UI, and big data. There will also be business basics courses that will teach management teams about essential business functions such as hiring, managing talent, and the lean startup methodology.
The Astrolabs team is aiming to develop courses and workshops that are at a “world-class level,”says Lebbos. While the Astrolabs team is qualified to lead classes in some topics, others, such as the UX/UI workshop in December, will require outside experts to be brought in. In cases such as this, practitioners with real-world experience and success will be called upon, rather than classroom instructors.
There are a number of other training options available to aspiring entrepreneurs and startup employees, but according to Ahmad Abughosh, Astrolab’s Learning & Development Manager, “most of the learning is either online or it’s not technical.”
Many of the accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces in the region offer various training sessions, workshops, and bootcamps, most of them offering entrepreneurship basics, from branding and marketing, to accounting and pitching. While some do offer the occasional technical workshop, which provide participants with basic know-how in topics such as coding and hard/software development, the majority of these sessions are non-technical in nature.
An example of an organization providing technical training relevant to the tech startups is Digital Lab Middle East, a Dubai-based digital marketing consultancy and training institution that offers technical workshops in an array of digital marketing topics.
Given the Web’s countless MOOCs and training courses, online is perhaps the most abundant source for technical training options for the MENA region. While these are quite convenient and typically affordable, they are, in terms of effectiveness, hard to compare with in-depth, hands-on workshops
It is within this niche — physical hands-on courses covering the whole gamut of technical skills needed for tech startups to function — that the Astrolabs team is trying to position the Academy.
There certainly appears to be a need for such an in-depth educational program focusing on relevant technical capacities. While covering the startup communities in Egypt and Jordan over the past year, CEOs and founders have recounted time and time again their trouble finding adequately skilled people to help their startups grow. Perhaps the Astrolabs Academy can be a part of the solution to this issue.
Wamda readers wishing to participate in either of the Astrolabs pilot courses can use the coupon code “wamda”when purchasing tickets to save 15% on the Google Analytics course and 10% on the UX/UI course.
If there is a specific topic that you would like to see covered by the Astrolabs Academy, reach out to Astrolabs’Learning & Development Manager, Ahmad Abughosh, at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion.