Sky take on around 100 graduates every year across all areas of the firm’s massive business. The company is though, like many, facing challenges when it comes to sifting through the merely good talent, to find the best available.

A core objective for Sky is to ensure that we continue to provide outstanding customer service to our customers. In order to do this, it is fundamental that we offer innovative products and services, underpinned by the latest, high-performing technologies. Recruiting new talent who are excited by a career in technology is an essential part of this.

Each year Sky look to take on around 100 graduates across all areas of the business. The vision for our Starting Out team recruitment team has been to:

• Recruit the skills required by the business
• Ensure the workforce is aligned to the diversity of our customer and audience base

Our Software Engineering Academy is one great example of how we’re achieving this in a hard to recruit to area. Launched in 2011, it is our way of addressing our business requirements for talented Developers. Innovation being critical to the success of Sky’s products and services mean we need to continually grow our talent pipeline. Historically, we relied on bringing in contractors to fulfil a large number of Developer roles and our vision has been to develop our own people to both grow and retain our best talent.

The Software Engineering Academy is as a seven month graduate programme designed for participants who wish to pursue a career in Software Development. Due to the fast-paced nature of the business and continual involvement in the technologies we use, the programme gives participants a unique opportunity which ends with all participants beginning a career as an Associate Software Engineer. The programme is open to students and young people from any degree or study discipline and offers an opportunity to those who have a passion for Technology.

The programme has been a huge success and since launching with just Graduates we have now grown the scheme to also offer Apprenticeships, Work Experience and paid summer Placement opportunities.

It’s been well publicised in the press that there is a shortage of students studying traditional STEM subjects and this coupled with the increasing need for technological skills presents a problem. There’s a gap between supply and demand which we needed to address through exploring untapped talent who could fill that gap. We open our recruitment and attraction to students from any technical background and this ensures the programme has flourished.

The Software Academy begins with a 4 week training book-camp where new starters are introduced to key development principles and practices. They then work on a business projects before completing the programme and joining a delivery team who could be working on any of our range of products including Now TV, Sky Q and online apps. Students who studied History or English at university are given the same support and guidance to succeed alongside those who’ve studied IT or Computer Science.

For those organisations also looking to address an internal skills gap and finding that the external market doesn’t have ready-made candidates, taking a flexible approach is key. Think about the key skills needed and most often these can be trained and developed with the right tools and structured programmes.
Our regular insight days and work experience across all areas of the business provide us with a platform to showcase the range of roles that young people may not have realised were accessible to them. Breaking down these barriers, communicating the softer skills and enthusiasm needed by successful hires has helped us to continue to attract great candidates to these roles.

The Software Academy alone now takes on over 100 young people a year on a permanent basis, up from 20 in the first year it ran. Feedback from the participants over the years has consistently been positive. Retention has been outstanding after the programme 98.5% of Academy candidates have gone on to start successful Development careers across Sky. Feedback has highlighted the level of responsibility provided to graduates of the Software Academy, often being beyond their expectations. Whether coming straight from school or university exams, young people on the scheme are at the forefront of shaping the Software underpinning the Technology in the homes of 11 million UK customers within the space of a matter of months.

If you’re keen to find out more about Sky’s programmes, specifically Work Experience then do sign up to attend Camilla Smith’s talk at the Early Careers Development Conference.