Working Scholarship Programme

Paul Whitley
Posted by Paul Whitley
8th January 2018

Netmatters Ltd are a relatively young technology company, offering web development, digital marketing, IT support and telephony services; primarily across Norfolk and Suffolk.

As Netmatters have grown over the years, and begun to require more and more team members, it has become increasingly apparent that there is a huge shortage of software developers in the region.

What Triggered the Initiative?

Upon further investigation, in trying to establish the cause of such an applicant shortage within this thriving industry, they have uncovered that gaining employment into the sector at a paid-level is exceptionally difficult for young people. There are simply no means available to those who have a passion for IT, coding and development - or those who had training but no experience - to transition into the commercial world of web development.

There is a huge opportunity being missed by the company, and by the development community as a whole, by simply not providing the chance of converting this passion into a career. It was decided that it is simply not good enough to just sit back, awaiting someone else to find a solution, and that it was up to them to find a feasible way of utilising the previously untapped resource of passionate people in the community.

Who is Eligible for the Programme?

Netmatters aim to provide the opportunity for people who are enthusiastic about technology but haven't had a chance to train formally, or professionally, for a role within web development. When seeking prospective candidates for the programme, the company looks for passion, drive, flare and commitment. In return, the young people enrolled, will gain a sum of ‘real-world/hands-on’ working experience, will amass a whole host of knowledge – attained throughout development and training - and will be getting paid throughout the process.

As each trainee web/software developer progresses and improves, salaries will increase, to reflect their improved knowledge and quality of work. This takes them through the programme, from an unskilled entry-level staff member through to a competent and experienced developer.

James Gulliver, Managing Director, was the driving force behind the initiative and had this to say of its origins: 

“We want to help the next generation of techies to find their feet”

“We really wanted to get a fully beneficial - and entirely sustainable - program in place, that would both help us to grow and expand as a company and help the next generation of techies to find their feet. It was important that the benefits of the scheme were felt by all involved, not only those at the top level, because we feel that values are best nurtured from the bottom up.”

The Story So Far...

The Working Scholarship initiative has already had extremely positive results, beyond expectation, in fact. Goals and targets at each stage have been continually surpassed and the determination and desire to improve has been demonstrated at every opportunity.

Several talented new members of staff have joined the team permanently, weeks ahead of their projected completion date. Although the company is delighted with the results, the most important thing is that the scholarship members are just as pleased, and feel that this opportunity has been valuable.

A continuous feedback loop is in place to ensure that the members continue to progress. When asked, Michael Grimshaw, a resident Working Scholar said:

“I never thought I'd get an opportunity like this, so I’m really grateful and would definitely recommend it to anybody who was in my position”

“At first when I applied for the Working Scholar web developer position, I thought it sounded too good to be true, because I'd been declined from everywhere else for lack of experience and qualifications. All I really had when I applied, was a passion but nothing solid to prove it. I decided I had nothing to lose and went for it anyway and I’m so glad I did! I’ve learnt and done so much more than I ever thought I would be able to. I never thought I'd get an opportunity like this, so I’m really grateful and would definitely recommend it to anybody who was in my position.”

This type of reaction is exactly what the company hoped for when planning the initiative. Proven effectiveness on both a commercial and personal level is the ultimate goal.

The next step is to transition all current Working Scholarship members into full web developer positions and bring in an increased number of applicants into the next program. They also plan to expand the initiative beyond its web development sector and give these opportunities to aspiring marketers, technicians and project managers. The goal is to have a Working Scholarship team in every department of the company.

Want to Get Involved?

Netmatters have also noticed that no other companies in the region have any programs like this, so they would like to reach beyond their own capabilities by encouraging others to partake in these initiatives, by showing them the overwhelming benefits they stand to gain. Particularly, as it’s such an amazing way of fostering a positive company culture, instilling values from the bottom up.

Alone they may be able to support a small number of people, but feel that by pushing for industry-wide backing of Working Scholarship programs, there could be a much wider impact; leading the way in bridging the gap for the next generation of techies to succeed.

If you're looking to get your foot in the door - so to speak - of the world of web and software development, view the full role specification and get in touch today.

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