Man working on software on a laptop at a desk with notebooks and a lamp and a noticeboard in his surrounding area.
Image: © C.M./

Why you don’t necessarily need coding experience to break into RPA

30 Aug 2023

If you want to learn RPA with the ABP School of Automation, all you need is a willingness to learn, says its CEO Marc Cooper.

Two years ago, the ABP School of Automation came to Ireland with the aim of providing hands-on, easily accessible training in business process automation to learners. The Scottish-founded school began a partnership with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board and UiPath to deliver its then-pilot programme for 30 people.

Given the business demand for automation software, it’s no surprise that the school has gone from strength to strength and now offers established programmes for learners from all over the country. The programmes can be done remotely as business process automation doesn’t involve working with robots, but with software bots that can replicate tasks that humans need to do as part of their working day. In other words, the software bots that the ABP School of Automation teaches people about are all about making business people’s lives easier.

Speaking to recently about the school’s work in Ireland, ABP School of Automation CEO Marc Cooper said that a lot of learners come in not even knowing how to code. Whether a learner is doing a course in robotic process automation (RPA) to supplement skills they already have or to learn new skills, Cooper said the number one thing that indicates how successful they will ultimately be is not their knowledge of technology but their willingness to learn.

Some learners come on board with basic coding experience while others only know Microsoft 365 packages and have zero prior coding knowledge. Cooper is realistic; he said that learners do ideally need some experience with computers to get value out of the learning experience but what really matters is how much they are willing to put into the course.

“Probably the biggest thing for us is the attitude towards learning. Do you really want a career in this space? How hungry are you to actually learn this?

“We have all the materials and the platform and the software at our disposal for people and it’s just a matter of whether people want it and how much time and effort they are willing to put in,” Cooper said.

The school is tapping into the need to train developers to understand the new tech processes needed by businesses. It is working with the Irish Government to train people who are unemployed or who need a bit of a boost in their careers. Learners do a 12-week foundation course during which they are introduced to the basic concepts of RPA and its uses. Then they have the opportunity to gain practical experience by doing paid work experience stints with employers.

According to Cooper, “What we’re looking for at the earliest stage is people with potential. We’re not looking for developers. We’re looking for basic technical capability, let’s say in using software, anything from basic Microsoft packages…Some people have basic coding experience, but it’s not essential because we do provide training in basic coding as part of the 12-week course.”

Learners are trained to use automation technology from a variety of vendors, such as UiPath and Microsoft. Who uses RPA and who might want to employ someone with those skills? “Any business that has a back office process, such as moving information, taking information from one application to another,” said Cooper. The term RPA refers to a software bot that can mimic human behaviour to perform certain tasks. The people enrolled at the ABP School of Automation learn to use and develop the software to do that.

“The main benefits of RPA are that people are freed from doing repetitive, high volume, mundane tasks over and over,” said Cooper. If the bot is programmed correctly to mimic human behaviour, it won’t make mistakes. Businesses need good RPA developers to actually make the tech in the first place so careers like RPA developer, senior RPA developer and even RPA consultant are very good areas to break into, especially if you’re interested in tech’s potential to improve business.

While RPA is certainly a good way of helping businesses become more efficient, it is not the only way, and this is something Cooper acknowledged. He said that tech is changing all the time and together with the school’s employer and sponsor partners they are weaving AI and machine learning skills into the course content so learners have access to the best, up-to-date methods.

The school is currently accepting applications for its next intake of learners this autumn and winter, with more details available on its website.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading