If there’s one industry that never seems to stop expanding, it’s technology. According to the 2018 Tech Nation report, the British IT sector is outgrowing other industries by 2.6 times. Currently, it’s worth around £184 billion to the British economy and has increased by £14 billion over the past year.
But like any high-growth area, people and skills are important in enabling change. Although new technological marvels and opportunities are always coming to light, there’s a major talent shortage in the sector. A study from Computer Weekly claims that there’ll be 800,000 unfilled IT jobs in the UK by 2020, signaling that more needs to be done to train the next generation of technology professionals.
To help close the digital skills gap and grow talent within the organisation, DevOpsGroup runs an internship scheme. Established in 2015 and delivered by the DevOpsGroup Academy, it provides a mixture of formal and practical training to those looking to forge a career in the technology sector.
Techies of the future
21-year-old Charlotte Williams, from Pontypridd, is one of the firm’s current cohort of interns and has been taking part on the scheme for nine months. She was originally going to embark on an art and design career path but decided to pursue something technology-related due to the booming opportunity in the sector.
“Before going to university, I was going to do arts and graphics design. But I decided last minute to go into technology because I had done it at A Level and enjoyed the course. Although I liked art a bit more, I then had a serious talk with my parents and decided that it’d be easier to find a job in the technology industry compared to the creative industry,” she says.
What has stood out to Charlotte the most about the internship is that it’s so varied and accommodating. “Coming into the business, we did a departmental rotation and spent a few weeks with each team. After that, I went on to work with a client and learnt about things such as networking, virtual environments and the cloud,” she recalls.
“I’ve also completed an Agile course, which I took interest in. This is now an area I’m trying to focus on. For me, the internship has been amazing because it’s very flexible and diverse, and James Harvey and the team have been hugely supportive throughout.”
Charlotte has thrived by being around passionate, knowledgeable people – and she feels valued. “DevOpsGroup is my first real job and industry I’ve experienced, and the company has been extremely open to my development. You hear a lot about women in the technology industry and how they’re not seen as the same as men. However, I’ve not experienced that. If anything, I feel like people appreciate me. And there’s a lot of help and encouragement from the team,” she adds.
James Harvey, who runs the academy, says the aim is to create the technology workforce of the future. “We want to use our experience to educate others, effectively. Our approach, along with the relationship we have with universities, is helping to break new ground and grow the next generation of UK talent,” he explains.
Although the programme is helping to close the skills gap in Wales, it’s genuinely a great opportunity for people looking for a way into this exciting, fast-paced industry. Ryan Cullen, a people partner at DevOpsGroup, says: “While taking part in the scheme, interns will get the chance to complete external qualifications like the BCS Agile course. This not only makes them more rounded individuals but more credible for when they meet clients.”
Craig Winfield, who is currently undertaking a software engineering internship, talks about his experience: “It’s great that DevOpsGroup has put me on the BCS Agile course. I think this is something that’s really going to set me apart and that I’m going to take away on my CV, regardless of where I end up in my career. And I feel like after this, I’ll have additional insight and knowledge to prepare me for my future.”
Nathan Davies, a DevOps engineer, plays a fundamental role in the day-to-day running of the internship scheme as a mentor. “My job is to oversee the development of the interns, from start to finish. This includes fostering their development and acting as their product owner,” he says.
“I think my role is important because, having been through this process, it was apparent that we needed someone within the organisation to help guide interns and drive them forward. I’ve learnt that it’s important to have empathy and understand their position, especially as we grow. To the interns, I’m a familiar face and contact – allowing them to feel confident that someone has their back.”
As we head into an era where more people and devices are connected to the internet, it’s important to ensure there’s enough talent to create and maintain the innovations critical to this ecosystem. Closing the skills gap won’t be an easy task, but companies like DevOpsGroup are taking proactive approaches to enable much needed change.