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Posted on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Software development company SRT Solutions offers new public training courses

By Ben Freed


Bill Wagner and co-founder Dianne Marsh started SRT Solutions in 2000 with an eye towards keeping software development in the Ann Arbor area.

Photo by Mark Bialek | For

When the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, its impact on the software development field was immediately felt in the pocketbooks of everyone from programmers to CEOs. SRT Solutions co-founder Bill Wagner said the crash’s more lasting legacy was to discourage a generation from pursuing careers in the sector.

“Everyone you talked to in the first half of the 2000s said, ‘No no no, don’t go into that space, the jobs are all going offshore, the wages are going down,’” he said.

“Now we’re reaching the point where we see an incredible shortage of people with computer science backgrounds who graduated from high school from 2004 to 2008. Those would be the recent college grads or the people with 3 to 5 years experience, we just don’t have those in the numbers we should.”

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Wagner said the lack of programmers with a deep understanding of the theory behind computer science is putting the breaks on Ann Arbor’s local economy in a number of ways.

“We’ve never formalized it as a mission statement, but what we’ve always been behind is doing whatever we can to help the software industry in this region grow,” he said.

The company’s newest effort towards increasing programming proficiency in the area is a Developer Growth Infusion training series planed to launch Jan. 16.

“We like to think that this course will complement courses such as [Ann Arbor SPARK’s] Shifting Code and companies that are hiring new graduates,” Wagner said.

“Those types of people will have a lot of the basics, a lot of the theory, but they don’t know what a professional software development organization looks like. So we’re trying to augment their training and be the next stage in these individual’s development.”

SRT already hosts training sessions for companies that want to train their software staffs in new and emerging technologies. Wagner hopes that companies will sign their programmers up for the new courses as a way to make sure they stay on the cutting edge.

“From a company standpoint, you need to invest in your people. It’s a good retention strategy,” he said.

“If you’re going to be a company that helps your employees grow, you’re going to be a better destination employer, especially as the market for software skills keeps tightening up.”

Individuals also can sign up for the classes on their own. With new software languages and hardware products being developed all the time, Wagner said it’s vital for programmers to keep up with the newest technologies.

“One of our concerns is that there’s such a shortage of programmers that people think you can have great success by taking a couple community college classes and the Shifting Code workshop,” he said.

“Those are good on-ramps, but they don’t go deep enough to allow you to have a good long career in the industry. Development moves too fast, and there are too many things that happen too quickly for someone without a really strong basis in computer science and theory to keep up.”

Each half-day session costs $300, with a $250 group rate for groups of more than 5. The first class, scheduled for Jan. 16 will deal with C# and .NET 4.5 programming. Wagner said he plans to run one session every two weeks.

“There’s more and more recognition these days that the software sector is a strong sector that people should want to be in,” he said.

“People say this last recession was a ‘great recession,’ but for many of my colleagues it was not nearly as bad as the dot-com burst. Software developers really skated through the last recession. The sector kept growing, and it’s going to keep growing. We all need to keep learning to keep up with it.”

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

The article is correct that companies "poisoned the well" of HS students by flooding the market with H1B workers onshore and offshoring work during those years. Pay went down and jobs became scarce. Students notices and didn't join the field. Displaced professionals went other directions. If companies want resources they'll have to reach out to the incoming students and convince them that the career is viable. With the recent reductions in H1B allocations and "inshoring" it might be true. If wages start to rise then it is true.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Whoops. That's "noticed" not "notices".