UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has exclusively revealed to Computing that it has started building a new software engineering team in London in order to drive innovation at the organisation.
The business intends to recruit 50 software engineers in total, of which eight have so far been employed.
"We want to support innovation at M&S and bring software development in-house, which will give us an edge to work faster," M&S CIO Darrell Stein told Computing this week.
"We're going to do things in a more iterative way, using agile processes. That way we can trial new developments more easily, and then go back and redevelop," he added.
Some of the new headcount will be made up from graduates, as Stein is a firm believer in the company's graduate scheme.
"A decent percentage of the new engineers will be made up from the graduate intake. I believe in the graduate scheme, and kept it up even in difficult times when budgets were tight.
"We'll use the scheme to build around half of the positions, with the other half being hired in."
One of Stein's chief concerns now is how to make M&S as attractive an employer as possible to the new generation of developers.
"We're looking at how to make ourselves a good prospect for software engineers. We need the right reward mechanisms, but also the right environment to encourage creativity among the team."
Stein also said that technology could be made more attractive to under-graduates, which would help address current industry concerns at the shortage of students looking for a career in IT.
"There's plenty that could be done ealier in the education process to make computer science more interesting. Traditionally it's not the most exciting topic and the way it's been taught hasn't made it 'cool'.
"At the moment, the big issue is graduate unemployment. It's question of mapping those two things together and getting people interested in IT, and realising that there are jobs there.
"There's plenty of UK talent out there, it just hasn't been channelled into the right area. The industry has offshored these needs in the past, and we think there's a big opportunity to build the skills base here. We think it'll create some really exciting jobs for the graduate population."
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