3 Sided Cube
3 Sided Cube are a mobile app development agency who create tech for good. Based in Bournemouth they work with global clients pioneering disruptive technology. Their award-winning work on disaster preparedness and emergency apps has seen them work with organisations including the American (and International) Red Cross and the World Resource Institute.
They’ve had quite a bit of success, with over 30M downloads, across over 80 countries. Their apps have also been translated into 55 different languages.
One of 3 Sided Cube’s biggest difficulties is around talent acquisition and in particular the recruitment of software developers. Graduates often leave university with little or no actual experience of work, and those that have, will often have been an intern where they are asked to work around the edges of a project.
The key to a good developer isn’t the technical skills that they teach at university. Being good at a coding is the baseline. What set’s makes a great developer is the ability to work well in teams is paramount. That involves technical knowledge of the tools involved and the softer interpersonal skills required to compromise and work together to deliver the best solution.
To overcome these recruitment issues, 3 Sided Cube decided to investigate Apprenticeships as a way to bring new talent in to the agency. They wanted members of the team that they could develop from the ground up and help shape them to be a valuable part of the local talent pool.
3 Sided Cube have worked with the college for a couple of years, regularly attending the Digital Advisory Board (DAB). The DAB brings together local employers to consult on the latest college initiatives and courses. These links to the college enabled them to find out about the process of engaging in Apprenticeships and to also utilise their expertise to help secure their first apprentice.
They are a firm believer that a high tide raises all boats, and the better the quality of the local talent pool, the higher the chance of their future team being better.
Apprenticeships have offered the perfect balance of having an extra member of the production team who can help and support as a productive resource, alongside them also being able to help the apprentice prioritise their learning.
Thanks to their scheduling methods and building in some additional time for the apprentice to learn as they go, they have found it straight-forward to offer the right balance of on-the-job learning as part of the Apprenticeship training programme.
A key success factor for 3 Sided Cube was that they built a relationship with their apprentice over time. By offering work experience and internships, and then keeping in touch, they were able to continue talking to them while they were considering options. This relationship allowed them to be able to bring them in to the team with a specific and focussed role and because they knew them, they were already confident that they would fit in to the wider team.
Having the Apprenticeship as a way to attract and bring in local talent to grow with us as a business is a huge benefit for us. And it has certainly allowed us to nurture our relationship with the college and has opened our eyes to how flexible and relevant Apprenticeships are for the STEM industries.
They also bring with them flexibility - it allows us to bring in extra capacity into the team - resource that can be productive even whilst their journey of learning is continuing. It is also a fantastic way to ensure you’re giving your existing team opportunities to develop in mentoring and coaching on existing ways of working. And done correctly - with the right understanding of how much time should be “learning” vs “doing” and a commitment to invest in someone’s development through mentoring and knowledge sharing, Apprenticeships can provide a fantastic longer-term strategy to recruiting into some of the more technical disciplines.
The college have been fantastic. The process of taking on apprentices hasn’t been too rigid or onerous. That means it’s allowed for us as a company to create and build a really strong relationship with our current apprentice. That helps from both a cultural and a conceptual point of view, in terms of the apprentices having the true experience of employment and knowing that they are an equal member of the team.
We’re looking forward to continuing to offer more Apprenticeships in the future and in particular supporting developer Apprenticeships. And we’re also keen to encourage more females into the industry too.
Rich Strachan, Managing Director, 3 Sided Cube