Open Drupal & Drupal Apprenticeships, Crispin Read

Where are the good Drupal devs? How can young people get a chance in an industry otherwise off-limits to them? Crispin Read's Drupal Camp Yorkshire talk covered both.

I’m in Leeds for the Drupal Camp Yorkshire conference, blogging and tweeting about the event.

Crispin Read went from general to specific addressing a particular problem: experienced Drupal developers. He pointed out that it’s hard to get good Drupal devs both locally and globally, since it’s a specialised type of PHP development. Even those devs that have ‘3 years experience’ on paper most likely haven’t been doing pure Drupal development.

(I’d had a chat with some of the attendees and one had bemoaned that their city had so-called ‘Drupal developers’ that were only really themers and yet commanded high fees as if they did modules).

The steep learning curve for Drupal is well known, but to date there still aren’t accessible ways that people can learn how to be confident and efficient developers. The type of dev that knows that something doesn’t need a custom module but can be done with entity fields and views.

So, he’s part of the Open Drupal project. They’re attempting to create a network and training documentation. It’s available online through Google Drive, and anyone who’s interested in contributing can ask for edit permissions.

However, that’s only part of a larger issue. Read notes that much of industry expects an ICT degree just to start working in the web. But young people from disadvantaged communities may not be able to commit financially to a computing degree, or even know that they might have the aptitude for the subject. That’s where Drupal Apprenticeships comes in. Happy Computers has gone through the official process to be able to help high school students train as a Drupal dev rather than go to college or do A-Levels. The first cohort of half a dozen had each spent a year working at an agency while also getting the usual apprentice support. Read’s company had had one apprentice and been happy with their development. They felt that at the end of the year their apprentice was sufficiently prepared for 100% paid work. The scheme is currently based in London but is looking to extend across the country given enough support from local companies.

I find it interesting that so much of the tech industry is turning to apprenticeships as a way to foster much needed talent. In a slightly different field, this talk reminded me greatly of Fred Beecher’s talk on UX Apprenticeships, which had a slightly different model (1 agency, a month, no external help), but had a similar need and solution.

The video of the full talk is available below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLkIxiCmCWc&w=700 ]

Vicky Teinaki is a user experience designer at Newcastle upon Tyne agency Orange Bus. She is also working on a PhD at Northumbria University about better ways of communicating design methods within the design industry.

  • Thanks for the write up Vicky – if anyone wants to be kept informed about developments in Open Drupal and the apprenticeship scheme please sign up to the mailing list at http://opendrupal.org/