Earlier this week staff at Happy had a business meeting and one of the things we discussed was… why do we do what we do. It took a long time to put into words what we all felt, but ultimately it came down to a simple reason… because we care.
The reason I do what I do started several years ago when I was teaching Excel to a class of adult learners. A young guy in that class picked it up really quickly, so naturally I told him how well he was doing and got him to help other members of the class, recognised his achievements that day and told him he was smart. At the end of the day he stayed behind and when everyone has left he thanked me and told me that no one had ever told him he was smart before. He was 20 years old, left school with no qualifications and no one had ever recognised his abilities. This had a massive impact on me. With two sons of my own I imagined what life might be like for them if they were in the same situation. And I cried… lots!
Shortly after that I came into contact with the Drupal community and found lots of people that were really keen to get new talent into the industry, support young people and help them develop their skills. We worked together and built a Web Development Apprenticeship programme http://mwda.uk/about.html
We are a small project, but make a huge difference. At the recent DrupalCamp London I met up with two of our past apprentices, Jack and Zach. Jack’s story is well know, he’s been happy to share his experience of dropping out of college, having an unfulfilling job and not knowing what to do with his life. Now, only two years after completing his apprenticeship, he has a great career and has opportunities that he always hoped for. I have lots of stories like this, real life examples of how the opportunity of an apprenticeship has made a life changing difference.
We continue to develop and improve our programme, but always struggle with placing apprentices with an employer, and this confuses me! I hear there is a lack of new talent, young people, women and diversity in the web development industry. But I offer a recruitment and training programme to help fill these needs, so why is it difficult to find a place in a web dev team for these youngsters?
Can you help? Can you give someone an opportunity that they might not have had or get elsewhere? Do you care?
Apprenticeships don’t just benefit apprentices. I have worked with several employers that found taking on an apprentices not only helps them grow their team, but helps them create a more cohesive team. They find that having to teach a newbie about ‘how things work around here’ gives them the much needed opportunity to evaluate and improve how they work.
Let me know if you want to improve your dev team.
ps - lots more young women are applying for our Web Dev Apprenticeship programme now - hoorah!!!