Mikko Hämäläinen

Battling developer shortage with educational cooperation

Without today’s juniors there wouldn’t be tomorrow’s seniors. This very much holds true within any specialist field, but it still feels like the truth about healthy workforce structure has been forgotten in today’s knowledge work.

As a company that cooperates a lot with public sector organizations, it must be said that sometimes it’s exceedingly difficult to get newcomers to the software development field actually hired into projects. Project teams are picked based on CVs in close fought competitive tendering with winning bids invariably going to teams made up of 10 year veterans with black belts in coding. You can’t get beginners hired to gather valuable experience even if their fees were next to nothing.

The board of the Code from Finland association, lead by their chairman Janne Kalliola, laudably pointed out in their opinion piece in Helsingin Sanomat that strict competitive tendering criteria are exacerbating the developer shortage and are holding back the growth of the industry.

Even though experience is valuable and valued, the programming industry needs new skilled workers now more than ever. The way we are trying to affect the industry is through educational cooperation and by hiring junior software developers ourselves.

Cooperation with the Helsinki Business College

A versatile content management system like Drupal, which is aimed at large clients, requires a constant source of experts. Fresh software developers are often enthusiastic open source contributors, and their careers will benefit from Drupal’s large international community. Being an active open source developer could well act as a stepping stone to an international career in programming.

In Finland, Drupal programming education is offered by our longstanding partner, the Helsinki Business College. Our collaboration during the years has been varied: we’ve taught in their courses, coached teachers in the use of Drupal, organized company visits and taken in interns whenever possible. When things work out, we are happy to offer permanent jobs to the interns. Many HBC students have graduated to working life through us.

In January of 2022 we will take the next step in our collaboration as we become the cooperation partner for the React & Drupal Full Stack Web Developer study program at HBC. We want to take active part in familiarizing students with the everyday life within the software industry, as well as the Drupal community and naturally with us as a company.

As a partner we will help HBC to specify the practice project carried out during the studies, and I will work as the project’s product owner for the development teams. At the end of the study period we hope to snag as many skilled developers as possible as interns, which will hopefully lead to them becoming gainfully employed developers in the industry.

Maintenance work provides all-round experience

Even though the public sector’s attitude towards novice developers is hardly enthusiastic, competitive tendering shenanigans won’t be the end of anyone’s career. The comprehensive maintenance and small scale development services we offer are of key importance when it comes to getting junior coders employed. Most of our interns will find themselves under the care of our Magical Support team and will later be employed as part of the team.

We at Druid don’t consider the maintenance services we provide as a necessary evil but rather a significant source of our revenue. Over 95% of our clients move to maintenance at the end of an implementation project, and the amount of work done under the maintenance contract is often manifold compared to the original project.

Our multilingual and multi-skilled team is responsible for ensuring that our clients’ websites remain functional, secure, and up-to-date in terms of features. The technical skills required in these tasks range from the comprehensive knowledge of large Drupal systems to creating modern JavaScript and React code. Is there a better place for a newcomer to the industry to get a feel of the diversity of working life?

We at Druid have helped bring to life a number of success stories whose main star has been a motivated fledgling software developer. Those are the stories we yearn for. That’s why we want to offer a solid stepping stone to working life to as many people as possible.