Sorry, Code Club

Created: 02 May 2014

Over the past few months I have been worrying about a problem that we have in IT; how to find all the people we need to keep the systems we need running.

My experience of trying to hire over the past year is that in London we cannot find enough people with the right skills to look after the kind of modern web systems we are currently building. In contrast, there are more skilled people available who are more tightly focussed on software development, or at least that is my perception, and more attempts to encourage people to program through initiatives like Code Club.

A second, and loosely related problem that troubles me is that we have the balance too much in favour of re-invention over improvement of existing open source solutions. It was primarily libraries and infrastructure code that I was thinking about. Particularly, the problem is the difficulty in reusing them that tempts people to use local implementations.

This morning I woke up and flippantly tweeted the first thing that came into my head conflating both subjects, and was justifiably and politely admonished by colleagues and friends. There are a number of things I regret about this, but most importantly including Code Club was a mistake; it is a useful and fun project that gets kids involved in tech. These kids might well go onto to be top notch systems-savvy developers or ops people, rather than programmers.

It was also a mistake to suggest, as I did, that there is somehow a decision to be made between only building new software and only maintaining the existing software and we should only do maintenance. There is not, we absolutely need to build new things and those things also need to be maintained.

I regret the tone of a hectoring authority figure, or “grumpy ops guy” as Michael Brunton-Spall put it later on in our conversation as I tried to explain what I meant.

What I really should have pointed out was the need for something like Tech Ops Club in addition to Code Club, rather than in competition. Sorry, Code Club.