Hatching Software Engineers for Japan’s Future

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Code Chrysalis, co-founded by Chinese American Yan Fan, is offering a coding boot camp service for foreigners and natives in Japan.

Code Chrysalis is mostly known for its three-month immersive training service. However, the boot camp tries to avoid enlisting coding novices. In the inaugural Japan Startup Megaphone podcast, produced by Akihabara News, Fan explained that the people joining Code Chrysalis typically “make an effort to learn topics on their own, and learn how to code on their own.” The educational services help to “bring them that last step of the way.”

The immersive boot camp hopes to “train up individuals, giving them the skills that they need to be successful.” Code Chrysalis also offers “corporate training so we can go into these large companies and educate and help them train their workforce and educate their executives.”

Fan described boot camps as “ways to disrupt education.” The organization aims to “find a way to bring more software engineers in an industry that was really lacking… There’s a huge dearth of software engineers, especially in Japan.”

Japan’s weakness within the global software industry can be traced back to historic missteps during the 1980s and 1990s. “It’s a huge systemic issue. Japan has been really strong in hardware… Hardware is just a commodity, and software is really what drives value; it’s really what creates businesses,” Fan says.

There are also problems due to the current corporate and educational systems. Fan explains, “the university level electrical and mechanical engineering departments are much stronger than the computer science or software engineering arms. There’s also a very weak connection between employers and software engineering or computer science programs.” Additionally, in the corporate realm, “technology has continued to be underprioritized because the people leading these massive companies are not very tech savvy.”

To add to this, Fan elaborates, “startups in Japan tend to be a lot more inward looking, so their kind of vision is not to take over the world, but just to take over Japan.” This makes the software industry competition much less fierce than other developed nations.

In Japan, women and foreigners may run into roadblocks while trying to pursue a career in software. Fan observes, “there’s just still this mindset that women should not be in engineering.” Also, for non-Japanese, “it’s much more difficult for foreigners to find a job if they don’t speak Japanese.” Despite this, if a foreigner does in fact know the language, “you can find a job… There’s such a huge need.”

Regardless of these challenges, Code Chrysalis prides itself on its graduates that “are making career switches… So not only are you hiring someone who is a software engineer and has the technical skills, you’re also hiring someone who has work experience already.”

Fan closes by pointing out that Japan, a country with so much soft power, “could really make quite an impact in a positive way on the world.”

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