Regardless of whether you are in Silicon Valley, the booming tech corridors of New York City, or in Bangalore, global technology companies are singing the same tune.
There is a shortage of IT talent that can cut across the board room table and connect with end customers. In addition, the expanding role of technology across all businesses has created an unprecedented demand for IT talent. Across the globe, there is a bigger demand for IT talent in the business community than is being created by universities worldwide.
The problem can be boiled down to a simple truth: almost every company has a digital presence and is trying to hire talented people but very few companies are actually willing to invest in long-term growth of people, especially in growing technical skills. In other words, developing people skills to match technical skills.
So how does a global technology company go about nurturing IT experts to diversify their business skill sets?
Most companies are not taking the time to invest in their talent, thus creating a rise in alternative learning educational routes that can empower individuals, such as developer boot camps. ThoughtWorks is doing something different; we are investing the time and resources to nurture and expand our employees’ business skill sets beyond the technical realm. We do this because our long-term goal is to have team members stay in our community for years, building their experience and also helping us build the best software company.
All hires that join straight from college or university travel to our delivery center in India to participate in an intensive five-week training program, called ThoughtWorks University (TWU). These new hires are joined by other ThoughtWorkers from all over the world, discovering the values, practices and principles that have made ThoughtWorks successful. This is an intensive, hands-on experience, about learning how to build working software from week one. New ThoughtWorkers work together as groups: a programmer from China working with an engineer from South Africa; a coder from San Francisco paired with an IT expert from India.
Part of the goal of TWU and our company is to teach skills that touch upon more than technical prowess. Technical skills are only one part of being a successful professional. In order to answer the hard, technical questions for clients, you need to first know the clients as people while also understanding the broader world in which we live — in other words, taking the mindset of our clients from a business perspective. Understanding different cultures and viewpoints, this is a theme woven throughout and it starts for our new hires at Thoughtworks University. We are also proud to have a course in which half the attendees are women, bringing a much-needed diversity to our industry.
In order to bring the people skills to the forefront, we simulate client projects for our new programmers to put them in new situations.
- How to understand our clients’ underlying business needs.
- How to think strategically and bring ideas to the table beyond programming.
- Thinking about the technical challenges from a business and oftentimes social impact. and humanitarian perspective. It cannot just be about programming.
If we wanted to teach people just technical skills there are more practical methods than flying people from all over the world to India. We do it because the benefit of TWU goes beyond the five weeks of the program. TWU is also a program which instills the need and resources for continual learning and teaches our new employees that the challenges we solve are not just technical, it is also for practical business solutions and making a positive social impact.