‘Stop the blame game over skills shortage’

Harvey Whitford: They cant get the work experience to get the jobs.

Technology businesses need to step up and sort out the issue of skills shortages in the industry by recruiting potential instead of just poaching experience, according to the former head of Sky Bet’s software academy.

Harvey Whitford, who now runs the Northern Academy for Sparta Global, an organisation which provides intensive bootcamp training in tech, says Yorkshire has a high volume of graduates with the potential to fill software development roles.

Harvey Whitford with students undergoing training through Sparta Global.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “For too long I think businesses have been blaming education and Government rather than sorting the problem out themselves by choosing to hire graduates, choosing to hire school leavers and training them.

“Businesses need to take charge of the situation. They can’t expect education and the Government to solve all the problems. They complain about skills shortages, well do something about it.”

Sparta Global is looking to bridge the gap between graduates leaving university and starting jobs at tech companies. It partners with clients and then selects graduates for an intensive training course in specific technologies.

The courses run by Sparta Global last between eight and 12 weeks.

“Then we place them as our consultants with our partner clients on their projects to solve skills shortages that those clients have,” Harvey Whitford said.

The region is suffering from a major brain drain to London but tech businesses can play a part by hiring potential.

Mr Whitford, who created Sky Bet’s software academy last year, said: “Yorkshire is a little bit more fortunate because more students that go to Yorkshire universities want to stay in the region. That’s not the case for any other region in the UK.

“What we need to do is persuade Yorkshire and Northern technology businesses to effectively take the opportunity of hiring potential rather than hiring experience.

“Graduates can’t get jobs because the jobs are advertised requiring years of experience. They must have years of experience in these technologies. They can’t get the work experience to get the jobs.

“They’re stuck effectively in this loop where they can’t get a job because they haven’t got the experience but they can’t get the experience to get the job. That’s where our model breaks that loop.

“We give them the skills in the relevant technology and we get them the role, which gives them the experience.”

He added that universities are providing a volume of talented students.

“But the issue is that relevant skills that technology businesses need now, it takes years for the universities to change their curriculum to meet the current demands,” Mr Whitford said. “Whereas, we can modify our curriculum three times a year.”

Sparta Global already has academies in Birmingham and London with Leeds now serving the North. The training it provides is free to graduates.

Leeds-based investment firm KCP provided an investment of £4m to allow the firm to expand its services.

Jet2.com is already a partner client of the consultancy.

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