Web Developers Conference 2017

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking about the next generation of digital talent at one of the UK’s longest running web developer conferences.

Not only is the Web Developers Conference (WDC) one of the longest running conferences in our sector, but it’s also one of my favourites. It brings together an inspiring collection of talented and creative people for a day dedicated to learning something new. Having experienced the conference as an attendee in previous years, I was excited to share my thoughts on stage at the 10th WDC event.

Hosted at The Watershed in Bristol, the conference took place at the centre of a thriving digital hub with creatives and start-ups on every corner. On the evening before the conference the organisers held a suitably geeky Nerd Pub Quiz which resulted in triumph for our team as the winners!

The conference began in the most unusual of ways. The WDC organisers took it upon themselves to produce a very special music video to help attendees wake up, introduce the speakers and generally entertain us. Mission accomplished.

As the opening speaker, I was thrilled to kick-off a discussion around a subject I’m so passionate about. The next generation of digital talent.

For context, we’re currently facing an enormous digital skills shortage in the UK. There is not enough talent to meet demand and it’s significantly impacting the digital sector. As such, I was keen to highlight the importance of inspiring the next generation of digital talent in order to help fuel the digital economy.

After my bit, I enjoyed sitting back and engaging with the remaining talks (rather than worrying about my own). The day was comprised of some exceptional presentations from people that I truly admire.

One such talk from Matt Bee of Future Learn raised concerns about the increasing entry level expectations for new developers, which resonated with me as a ‘self-taught developer’ (or as Matt called it, an STD).

He described how platforms, plugins and libraries are becoming smarter with the evolution of some amazing capabilities. But their functionalities can often be too complex for many developers, particularly new ones, to fully understand. For those considering a career in web development, complex elements like these could ultimately be deterrents which is less than ideal.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling the skills shortage, but collectively it’s the responsibility of the entire digital community to support and encourage people considering or beginning a career in the digital sector.

And how do we do this?

By making ourselves more visible, more accessible and more inspiring.

A big thanks to the organisers of WebDevConf. I’ll see you next year!

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