“Talent Is Everywhere, Opportunity Is Not.”
I feel this phrase sums up our experiences over the last 7 years of sourcing and selecting talent for the Ten10 Academy to fill our own consulting requirements as well as our clients.
Our Academy provides bright, driven and capable pre-trained graduate individuals who will relocate to your site and become embedded in your team. We call them ‘Academy Engineers.’ Whilst performing as a dedicated member of your team, they receive training, performance reviews and career development from the Ten10 Learning Team as well as ongoing support from the Ten10 Wellbeing Team to facilitate seamless onboarding and develop valuable, evolving skills.
Finally, once the initial engagement is completed, you have the option to retain them as a permanent member of your team, building long-term capability and stability.
It’s Not Just About STEM
Over the years we’ve interviewed thousands of people for tech roles, all of whom want to work in technology, but for many their chosen academic path has either made that difficult or excluded them entirely from our industry.
When we dig into this during the interview and assessment process, we uncover a number of trends. When we ask people why they chose a particular academic path often it’s driven by “I was good at it” or “I enjoyed it” but sometimes it’s driven by a more frivolous agenda… “I liked the teacher” or “my friends were doing it”.
More worryingly, when we ask whether they thought about pursuing qualifications traditionally leading to a comp-sci or engineering degree I hear “That just wasn’t what we did at school” or “I didn’t want to be the only girl doing that” or, on one occasion I remember interviewing a candidate with a 1st in Linguistics who had just smashed our technical assessments – her comment was “I didn’t know I could study these subjects, it’s not something my school did”
We don’t mandate a STEM degree to join our business and start a career in technology – but just as importantly we don’t exclude people with those degrees either. When someone joins our assessment centre EVERYONE is on a level-playing field, gender, ethnicity, sexual-orientation and academic background have no influence… How they perform in our assessments solely drives our selection as to who are the suitable candidates. So what then do we look for?
The age of the pure-techie who ‘can’t communicate with people’, or who ‘can’t work well as part of a team’ is gone. We need people with an aptitude for technology – we also need people who can work well in collaborative teams, effective communicators who listen to other people’s views, are able to show empathy and understand how to work effectively within teams. We look for all-rounders who perform well in all these areas.
Amazing Results From Classics Degrees
I never cease to be amazed with the results when we run through the training. When we see people with an English, History or Classics degree who after a few weeks are able to write better code than someone with a degree in comp-science. Think about that for a moment – someone who’s never written a line of code before who when given the opportunity in the space of a few weeks is able to haul themselves up an incredibly steep learning curve and perform better than someone who has been exposed to tech and coding for a number of years.
We don’t feel that choosing to undertake A levels in maths and physics and doing well in them is a good indicator of whether you will definitely be a good developer, DevOps engineer, business analyst, or SDET. Instead, we feel that the best way to understand people’s aptitude for these roles is to provide them with specific training and experience in these roles to see how well they perform.
Training To Be The Best
We take a different approach, initial training for Ten10 Academy Engineers comprises a six week intensive, classroom based technical-primer followed by further role-based specialist training, all taught at Ten10’s dedicated training facility in Leeds. Our six week core training covers all aspects of the SDLC.
We use the core training as an extended assessment process to gauge an individual’s aptitude for a specific discipline, rather than pre-selecting individuals for specialist roles based on their education, background or initial desires. Based on the assessment results from all the modules and with guidance from our trainers, each individual is selected for the specific role where they will be most successful, based on their aptitude, ability and interests. Over the years, we never cease to be surprised when, at the end of the six weeks, people with History or English degrees excel at the technical aspects and people with technical degrees show a stronger aptitude for roles requiring softer-skills.
By teaching a little of everything within the SDLC, we train practitioners who are skilled in their selected specialism but also are able to understand, collaborate and empathise with individuals and teams working in other disciplines. This allows people to succeed in their own roles whilst helping others – mindful of their impact on other teams and contributing to efficiency.
Selection On Merit
Giving people the opportunity to come into an assessment day and be selected on their own merits as well as giving them the best training is only the first step to ensuring you get the best people.
We increasingly read about unpaid internships for many industries – journalism for example – where someone is expected to have the required social capital to be able to secure an internship in journalism. You will then also be expected to support yourself in London whilst you undertake unpaid work experience for a year or more before you are able to start a paid role…
How is that selecting the best people from the talent pool available? How is that fair? How are people who don’t have affluent parents or a means of supporting themselves through this process able to compete – in fact – many fail before this point unable to find the internship they need without the connections, networks and influence to secure an internship in the first place…
We don’t feel that’s fair. Our assessment days don’t favour anyone from a specific background and we don’t feel someone’s opportunity to work with us should be limited in that way either. We feel so strongly about this that we’ve build our values around it:
No-one should have to take a loan or burn through savings in order to join the Ten10 Academy. We pay a salary from day one throughout training, and we provide accommodation during training and until placement.
No-one should be denied a career in technology based on a decision they made at school, restricting their future career choices before they’ve even considered them. We don’t mandate a STEM degree. We select people based on their natural aptitude and rely on our quality training to prepare them for a career in technology, rather than their degree.
Investment And Integrity
Everyone who successfully completes the core training should have a career in technology.
We invest in people and they invest their time in us. Everyone who has completed the Ten10 Academy has been placed with customers and goes on to build a successful career in tech.
By following our core principles, we are able to cast the net wider, providing greater opportunity to the best people without the restrictions that would normally exclude them from a career in tech. This is reflected in our diversity stats. To date, 31% of Academy grads are women, and 40% of our Academy Engineers identify as BAME. We’re very proud of these stats, but we continue to improve on them. Recent Academy cohorts have been as high as 63% women.
We feel this is making a tangible difference, not focussing on ethereal strategies and initiatives that may lead to greater diversity in the workplace – but actually making it happen.