How academia can create the foundation for full stack developers
Academic institutions have been following key trends in the industry for designing the curriculum and devising education programmes to meet industry demand. Specialists in Business Intelligence, AI, Analytics, RPA, Data Science, IoT, to name few, are often cited as the most sought after and IT professionals have converged in large numbers around these areas of demand with initial grooming done at the institutions.
Programmers and software developers have been in steady demand over the years with only the technology specialisation changing from time to time. Campus hires continue to be in most parts focused on servicing this requirement. However lately, programmers with capability in full stack development have been in demand and the industry is looking at expanding the pool of full stack developers in order to deliver on the customer mandates. The growing number of online platforms and digital applications have resulted in the ever-increasing demand for full stack developers. Companies are preferring full stack developers who are generalists rather than specialists as they are able to keep the team size small and minimise new recruitments for each project.
Full stack developers are different from the traditional software developers with the former expected to have the knowledge of all the layers of an application and possess multiple specialised skills. The definition of full stack developers and the expectations from them have also been changing over time. Until recently full stack developers were expected to have both front end and back end skills but now full stack developers are also expected to have sound design and deployment skills including cloud computing. The primary reason for companies to hire full stack specialists is to enable them have flexibility in their projects and not to have to hire specialists for specific requirements. Full stack developers are not necessarily specialised in both backend and front end related development, but should be specialised in one of the two areas but have enough understanding of the other part to be able to be an effective contributor.
So in view of the expected levels of expertise in multiple skills and the ability to understand how things work in a holistic manner, it’s not easy for freshers from academic institutions to fulfil these requirements. Full stack developers also need to make a choice in terms of their learning paths and develop specialised expertise in the chosen database, programming languages, web designing tools, connectors and advanced subjects such as cloud services such as like Amazon Web Services, GoogleCloud Platform. and DevOps.
Therefore, academic institutions need to build a new curriculum which provides exposure to these subjects and more importantly create an appreciation on learning to learn as new tools and technologies would constantly be emerging. The fundamental pre-requisite would be to have sound basics and this is where academic rigour would be extremely helpful. It is also important for academic institutions to refocus their energies around live projects with startups and other organisations with the view to train students to develop the required orientation through exposure to different facets of full stack development through these projects.
From providing just the fresher talent pool with orientation to software development whom the industry would train, time has come for academic institutions for becoming true partners with the IT industry by seeding the essential ingredients in their students and enhancing the quality of outcomes of the education process such that their students are ready to meet the higher expectations of the global industry.
The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company