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Tech apprenticeships to improve developer shortage

The tech talent shortage isn't just a U.S. problem. "Developer vacancies are very difficult to fill in Europe, too," said Steve Millidge, founder of U.K.-based C2B2 Consulting and Payara, a GlassFish support provider. "It's absolutely the same."

In the U.K. and elsewhere, the developer shortage is serious enough to get governments involved. For example, Payara has opened tech apprenticeships for those who are participating in a national tech education program.

"Education is the key to the solution," said Millidge in a video interview with SearchSOA at the JavaOne 2015 conference in San Francisco.

Payara is one of many firms joining the tech apprenticeship program. Launched at the end of October, the British Intelligence Higher Apprenticeship in IT is a two-year program designed to replace a university degree. Overall, more than 60,000 people have enrolled in U.K. engineering apprenticeships.

Tech apprenticeships are just part of the education equation in the U.K. In 2014, the government launched the "Year of Code," which was a nationwide effort to get everyone from primary schoolers to senior citizens coding. Children from ages five to 16 were given coding instruction in school, starting in September 2014, and there were events around the country over the last year aimed at getting everyone to at least understand the basics of coding.

Tech apprenticeships and other developer education programs are far more common in Eastern Europe, where STEM education has been promoted dating back to the days of the Soviet Union. The end result in countries like the Ukraine is that anyone who wants to become a developer can, and oftentimes for free, according to Irina Kovalyova, marketing officer for Kyiv, Ukraine-based outsourcing firm Redwerk.

In the United States, President Barack Obama launched the TechHire Initiative earlier this year, which aims to bring not-for-profit coding schools, employers, students and teachers together to get more students on a path to technology jobs, including software development. U.S. CTO Megan Smith spurred that initiative and also urges developers to consider working for the government in organizations like Code for Change and 18F.

An option for those who'd like a bit more of a do-it-yourself solution could be the free to very-low-cost code depository GitHub. GitHub's director of field services, Matthew McCullough, has suggested employers and individuals could use the resources in GitHub to jumpstart coding education.

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