Posted on August 18, 2017 by staff

How Cardiff software academy is plugging skills gap


Cardiff University is giving its tech students direct industry experience through a revolutionary software academy.

Innovation Point, a company set up to promote tech in Wales, has set up the academy on the top floor of the Platfform building in nearby Newport.

Simon Renault is head of special projects at Innovation Point, which is based at Platfform, and coming to the end of his two-year secondment from the Welsh Government.

“We’ve established a software academy with Cardiff University that’s totally changing the model of the way that the undergraduates are taught,” he told BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire in the podcast you can listen to below.

“They do all of their learning by doing, such as building websites. They might get 20 minutes of teaching but then they’ll put that into real practice, for a real client.

“What the businesses get back would be a minimal viable product – it may not even work – but the idea is the students have learnt how to talk to that business on day one.”

Renault was head of Digital Wales with the Government but hopes to extend his secondment for a further year as Innovation Point looks to tackle the tech skills gap.

“Digital isn’t just ICT tech companies, it’s every business now. So my main focus for the last couple of years has been addressing the needs of how those businesses can grow in the digital world,” he continued.

“Businesses were talking about this gap and asking what we (Innovation Point) could do about it. And I turned it back around to the businesses and said: ‘Why don’t you get involved? What can you do about it?’

“They shaped the curriculum and bring us those real projects for the students to work on. By the third year the students are doing full business understanding, using all of the tools and techniques that businesses are using today.

“It’s [better] than summer placements because having that work experience throughout the whole three years of their undergraduate course is what sets these graduates apart and makes them far more ready to enter the workplace.”