Michael Dewhurst reveals how pair programming at DWP Technology has built everyone's skills base.
Michael has since retired, but the pair programming activity continues.
Pair programming is really critical to us because we know that if we bring in as many full time people as we can get that’s not going to be enough because of the rate of growth that we want. We know that there is a limited number of contractors out there, so we’re building development centres where we can train our people.
Last year we brought in 25 apprentices. We’re doing the same again this year. Next year we might scale that up a little.
So these are school leavers who really want to get into software development. We’re giving them pretty intensive training for a few months, and then they’re going out into the delivery projects.
So for everybody we can get through a training programme like that we need at least 1 experienced developer that we can pair with them, and so pair programming is just the standard way we do things.
And that’s working really well with the people that we’re bringing through that process. It actually works really well even if we put experienced people together, because they learn from each other, they challenge each other – “why did you do that?”, “have you tried that?”, “what about so and so?”.
But generally people have a bit of a go with pair programming and come away thinking yeah, that was a good experience I’ll do some more of that.