Having had some past experience as a software developer (I was part of a development team working on 3D kitchen design software, Planit for MacOS, using MPW Pascal), I have spent the past 25 years teaching programming, web development and networking at Mid Kent College of Higher and Further education. I recently moved to working as Digital Pathways Training Manager with IT apprentices on the Step Forward programme, a socially integrated apprenticeship scheme run by The Challenge. I have extensive experience of working with young people keen on a career in software development or in technical support and have experienced the challenges of enabling these young people to gain real work-related experience of a sufficient length and quality to give them a useful insight into the demands of these careers.
The software development industry has a known skills gap. Full-time education can enable a young person to gain a broad-based technical education but can limit their experience of the workplace, resulting in a capable graduate with limited employability skills. An apprenticeship can allow a young person to fully immerse themselves in a real working environment, through which a lot of rich learning can take place. However, there can be elements of a broad-based technical education that can be missed. I am very keen to explore ways to create a middle ground, a scheme that allows a reasonably significant amount of real work experience, working on real projects, while the young person completes a programme of 'full-time' broad-based vocational learning.
providing rich work experience for budding software developers
I believe this is possible and believe that the 'training kitchen' idea can be adapted to a 'training software house' concept where young people work on real projects, led by professionals, to develop mobile and web apps for charities and non-profits and to contribute to open-source projects. I am currently working on the development of a social enterprise dedicated to making this happen.
I care deeply about the need to train young people so that they can enter the industry at an earlier stage in their careers and start to narrow the skills gap and have invested a good amount of my free time to exploring how this is done in other countries and to researching projects here dedicated to this purpose. My ideas and ambitions are based on what I have learnt through my experience, my research and my travels.
See examples of my work