Although Psybergate is an SME, we have been active in stimulating growth of Information Technology resources in our industry. Psybergate is one of the founding partners of the Johannesburg Centre of Software Excellence (JCSE). The JCSE is a collaboration between the University of the Witwatersrand, the City of Johannesburg and various industry partners, and aims to improve processes, promote investment, support transformation, encourage innovation, and build capacity and skills. Together with the JCSE, Psybergate brought out Kent Beck, one of the founders of the eXtreme Programming Agile movement, to South Africa for a series of public lectures and Master Classes. When there was no Spring training in South Africa, we were instrumental in facilitating SpringSource to come to South Africa to conduct some Java Spring courses. In addition, we have been very active in the mentoring of Java developers. We have over the last three years experimented with mentoring groups of developers in various settings as opposed to 1 or 2 individuals. Through this process we have mentored in the region of 100 Java developers. These developers have ranged from having no Java experience to 15 years Java experience. This has included our own staff, individuals in our industry as well as mentoring of a client’s developers.
We are passionate about growing the skills in our local industry. In particular, we are concerned that many software developers do not have solid foundational skills and have not mastered key building blocks. This hampers their further development. In trying to address this gap, we have over the last few years mentored groups of developers where an experienced developer addresses foundational topics in detail and practically demonstrates key concepts by cutting code. Participants are given homework to reinforce the skills learned. We have found that this type of mentoring provides longer lasting skills development than concentrated once off courses. Feedback from participants and clients is encouraging. Note that our mentoring currently focuses primarily on technical growth of Java developers. However, it also includes soft skills enabling developers to be more effective in a team environment.