Brewing up Java skills for the knowledge economy
LAST year's economic downturn had a significant impact on the technology sector: not only did many long-time software engineers find themselves out of work, but they also found themselves out of the upskilling loop, while those still in employment found that funding for training courses had dried up in many organisations.
Following a successful series of courses teaching the foundations of the Java programming language last year, University College Dublin's (UCD) School of Computer Science and Informatics is embarking on a second round, and this time the low-cost course is aimed both at job seekers and those finding themselves on short time.
"The idea is to offer training to companies that have no training budgets because of economic woes," explains Professor John Murphy, a senior lecturer at the school.
He says the school has had inquiries from SMEs looking to do something about the double-edged sword of short time and axed training budgets.
"We went with Java because this is for the programmer who could be highly experienced but has never done Java or any object-oriented language. The profile of applicants we're seeing is not young graduates but rather seasoned software engineers, some with over 20 years' experience."
While Java has become an increasingly important skill in the technology sector over the past 10 years, many recently out-of-work programmers would have been working with the same propriety software systems and never had an opportunity to experiment with other ones, Murphy explains.
Affordability is the key to this course's offering: running in February and again in March at a cost of €75, the week-long stint of classes in foundation and advanced Java will essentially prep students looking to take the Sun Certified Java Programmer exams, as well as providing them with a certificate of attendance.
Murphy is expecting demand to be the same as last year when the courses were completely booked out, with 500 people in attendance overall.
The courses not only offer affordable training, but also introduce working men and women in the technology sector to further education and even research in a time when the emphasis is on developing a knowledge economy.
"Over 10 of those that went on the Java course last year have actually come on to the new taught MSc in Computer Science by Negotiated Learning."
This master's degree is the first of its kind in Ireland and allows students to pick from a wide range of modules, including those from UCD's School of Business, bringing entrepreneurial skills into the mix.
"It has brought people back into the academic fold. UCD is looking to make a contribution to the economy and this is a good way of building relationships with both individuals and organisations in the technology sector," adds Murphy.
With Java, he says UCD chose the most relevant and specific course for now, but the college is looking into expanding at some point in the future because of the level of interest being generated.
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