A Cambridgeshire company has come up with an innovative idea to handle the shortage of software developers. St Ives-based ScrumIT has teamed up with Cambridge Regional College to offer training to seven would-be software developers, all of whom have joined the project straight from school or FE college.
According to Mel Pullen, ScrumIT's apprentice master, too many UK software companies "scavenge" developers straight from university and contribute little to improving industry training. He said that ScrumIT is looking to revive the old fashioned apprentice scheme to show that there's no need for developers to go through a university education to become a first class developer.
Pullen has some experience in this field: he was part of the team that developed Acorn, one of the first personal computers (they were called micro-computers in those days) and has latterly worked for Symbian as chief system architect.
The apprentices are trained using the Scrum methodology, as the company name implies. Scrum is a technique developed more than a decade ago and used by many organisations including Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, SAP, Cisco, and the US Federal Reserve. Pullen had used the method while at Symbian and is now using it to put the new recruits through their paces.
Pullen has faith in the approach working. "I'm staking my reputation on being able to take people as young as 16 and turn them into confident and experienced craftsmen: people who are able to work as a team to add value to any product that uses or includes software. It's those same skills that we used at Acorn in the 1980s when we designed and built some of the first commercially-available micro-computers for the BBC, as well as the arguably more famous RISC processor chip that was sold by ARM. The one now in virtually every mobile phone in the world."
The world will be able to follow the success of Pullen's team. The apprentices are producing a blog detailing their experiences in the world of software development.