Developing the next generation of Software Engineers

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

Currently, Web Applications UK employs around 50 talented Software Engineers who all have a passion for coding. However, it is generally understood and accepted that there are too few highly skilled Software Developers within the UK IT industry, causing many employers to fight over a somewhat young developer pool. There are several causes for this, one being that the current generation of children are confident using technology but there are not enough people learning or wanting to learn how it is made.

Education Secretary Michael Gove expressed his concern over this issue in his speech at the BETT conference in January 2013, highlighting how, despite all of the changes within the technology industry, education has barely changed. The majority of ICT teaching in schools is not technology based and is often more focused on teaching young people how to use office applications. Referring to the Livingstone-Hope Review in 2012, Gove mentioned how the UK’s slump in the video game development sector is due to a lack of suitably-qualified graduates. The current UK school curriculum neglects the core computer science and software programming skills that the high-tech industries need. He went on to announce that the Department for Education is opening a consultation on withdrawing the current existing ICT National Curriculum. He hopes to see businesses and universities creating a new high quality Computer Science based GCSE, teaching young people how to design, code and build applications.

Expanding on Michael Gove’s plans, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) sees a need for private businesses to become involved in this transformation if we really want to improve the quality of people entering the technical workforce, in the long term.

Web Applications UK Chief Executive, Craig is Oldham President of GMCC and a governor of various schools in Oldham. He is constantly looking for new ways to encourage young people to learn about computer science. Fully devoted to the technology industry, as a company we give many guest lectures and speeches at local schools, colleges and universities, teaching them about software development. On top of all this, we recruit students and employ them for their industrial placement year of university. Whilst they are here, we train and teach them to be the best Software Engineers that they can be.

On April 4th, a number of local businesses were invited to a meeting held by GMCC to encourage the adoption of computer programming in schools. Naturally, Web Applications UK was more than happy to be involved. The invited businesses were asked to discuss the feasibility of putting a Raspberry Pi into every primary school classroom as a low cost attempt to encourage computer science based learning. During the meeting, the ‘every classroom’ aspiration was discarded in favour of setting up code clubs. Local businesses will volunteer their expertise to provide training to the pupils.

Web Applications UK, is excited at the prospect of this spreading across the Greater Manchester region. As a business that is always looking to support the development of Software Engineers and the technology industry as a whole, we see this project as extremely valuable as it will give young people the skills they need from the very beginning. Not only is the initiative hoping to make a positive impact to the hundreds of children in Greater Manchester who have an interest in technology, but it also will be imperative to the future of many IT businesses, including our own.