Birmingham IT firm launches training academy

Aim to reverse shortage of software professionals.

A Birmingham IT company that develops bespoke computer systems for the finance industry has taken action to combat a growing shortage of software engineers.

Martin Worner, founder and Managing Director of thecitysecret, a company based at Brindleyplace that delivers programming for global trading platforms for top tier banks and finance houses has launched his own in-house training Academy in an attempt to recruit and retain high calibre candidates.

He said: “Our clients are all top tier finance institutions looking for the most innovative software solutions possible, so we need developers with knowledge and flair. In 15 years of business we have never experienced recruitment problems, especially as we offer attractive career prospects beyond the City, but recently we have been in the unusual position of struggling to find suitably qualified software programmers.”

Mr Worner attributes the recruitment deficit to the reduced number of graduate training programmes being offered within the finance industry – the starting point for many of his more senior employees – and the fact that fewer students are now studying computer science at university.

Rather than restrict his company’s potential for future growth, he has taken the matter into his own hands by creating a customised eLearning programme which all new employees now undertake. Not only does it fine tune a candidate’s technical programming skills but is also provides vital training in the understanding of banking and online trading.

“As a company, thecitysecret is built on the back of a long-term relationship with the finance industry. We develop bespoke solutions for Equities, Fixed Income, Commodities, Equity Swaps, Forwards and Futures, Equity Derivatives, and more so it’s fair to say we know investment banking inside and out. We must remain one step ahead of our clients in terms of predicting their future software needs and it is essential that we retain this specialist knowledge within the business. The Academy programme is designed with this aim in mind.”

Pawel Kors, the company’s most recent recruit, joined the company’s Birmingham office this month from South Africa having worked for 20 years in software development in vehicle leasing. He is an experienced developer proficient in Java and C++ but has no banking background and as such may not have been considered for the job prior to the launch of the Academy. He said: ” I am hugely reassured by the idea of a structured training programme. In some new jobs you’d be left to pick things up along the way. The Academy leaves nothing to chance.”

The Academy is also offering specific training to school leavers on apprenticeship schemes based at offices in Birmingham and Yorkshire. “We are determined not to fall foul of any future skills shortage and are doing everything possible to equip all our staff in readiness for future growth,” said Mr Worner. “Amongst other things, the Academy is a formal way of transferring the knowledge of our experienced team members to newcomers.”

At present, thecitysecret has 25 employees with clients including Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Thomson Reuters, Armajaro, Renaissance Capital, Knight Frank, and Jabre Capital Partners. Solutions are developed for both the Buy and Sell side of any trading platform and candidates applying for jobs undergo rigorous aptitude, intellectual and technical tests as well as security checks. Current vacancies can be viewed at: