Developing staff for the future
Van Deven is very clear and vociferous on the main issue that affects the company’s future. “Lack of staff. It is the same story right across the industry and in many of our client sectors also. Young people do not seem to be attracted to the sector – possibly because they didn’t fully understand what it is or what is required to embark on such a career. It was such an obvious and fundamental weakness that we decided we needed to do something about it. So, seven years ago, we initiated a summer programme to identify and train young people who might be suitable to work in this particular IT area. They get paid for the time they spend with us and, when they have finished the programme they can come to SAS or perhaps another company looking for these types of skills. We find that even the ones who leave tend to gravitate back towards SAS through networking and other contacts so we tend to get useful spinoffs even if we don’t directly employ the student.”
“It is a great way for us to get young people to assess and for them to see if they want to work in this area. It also makes sure we are getting some access to the pool of talent before they are attracted into other sectors or disciplines. We have made some changes to the curriculum this year including web-enabled learning so we are expecting even better results.
“SAS has managed to achieve significant growth while still being market leader, which is pretty rare. Initiatives like this have helped to keep us where we are; people tend to gravitate towards successful, visionary companies because they see they will get opportunities there and they will be able to use their skills and be rewarded for hard work, creativity and innovation. All the smaller independents in this market have been absorbed by the big multinational players like IBM, Oracle and SAP so we have to find ways to differentiate ourselves and make SAS attractive.”