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Sky launches graduate training academy to plug future skills gap

Sky is recruiting 50 IT graduates to develop mobile- and web-based applications at its London-based software engineer training academy.

Successful candidates will become associate software developers on a £30,000 starting salary and a nine-month traineeship, to include working across Sky's mobile and web portfolio, as well as other live projects.

Preparing for the war for talent

Paul Cutter, Sky's director of software engineering, said the academy will train graduates as an alternative to recruiting skilled IT professionals.

"As the company is growing, we acknowledge that we're unlikely to find a better fit for our roles. We want the right enthusiasm and aptitude for us to train. We also want to make sure we've got a pipeline of new talent," said Paul Cutter.

Graduates will receive training in technical skills, such as Agile and Java technologies. Sky have been using Agile for three years for all its development to improve quality.

Deborah Baker, director for people at Sky, said investing in future talent is critical to its business. She added: "Sky is keen to maintain its high standards and will only offer trainees a permanent role upon successful completion of the scheme."

Sid Barnes, executive director at Computer People, said other large companies - such as BT and IBM - are making moves to secure its future workforce. Visa Europe has also launched an IT apprenticeship scheme for school leavers.

"Sky have highly skilled staff for today's needs. But they're building a talent pool so if there's a war for talent in the future - as is expected - they've already got a ready-made workforce."

Sid Barnes said smaller companies would be at the mercy of supply and demand within the IT industry.

"The larger companies have the foresight to recognise that the biggest demand currently exists in application development," he added.

Mobile applications

According to the latest figures from research firm, Gartner, worldwide app store sales are anticipated to surpass $15.1bn in 2011, a 190% increase on 2010 sales.

A third of Sky's trainees will be working on mobile applications. Cutter said this forms part of Sky's on-going investment into mobile apps. The company are now considering developing apps for Google's operating system, Android.

"It is important to develop across other popular operating systems to reach as many customers as possible," said Cutter.

Sky News and Sky Sports Football Score apps have been downloaded by more than five million users. A new Sky+ app for iPad users was launched in April 2011, aiming to match the success of the Sky+ iPhone app, which has been downloaded 1.7 million times.

Mobile app downloads can translate into increased sales. EBay more than tripled mobile trade in 2010, generating nearly $2bn in sales compared to $600m in 2009. Debenhams has launched a second iPhone app, called Debenhams Beauty Club, after achieving over 400,000 downloads and sales of over £1m within five months of launching a Debenhams iPhone app.

Sky's trainee candidate requirements

For its academy, Sky is looking for graduates with a minimum of a 2:1 graduate qualification in computer science or engineering, or in non-technical subjects so long as the candidate can show an aptitude for software development.

Cutter said the company is looking for good communicators with some website or mobile app development experience.

Based in Osterley, London, the trainee roles expand Sky's 160-strong graduate programme. The traineeship includes a month of intensive training and six months on-the-job experience.

Interested candidates can apply online until 19th June 2011 for a September 2011 start. Applications include a series of telephone interviews and a scenario-based assessment.

Sky caters for 10 million customers via interactive, mobile and web platforms.


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