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Vol.26 No.4

Vol.26 No.4


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Volume 25, No.4

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Three blind mice
A tale of three new APL trainees
A story of collaboration

Paul Grosvenor (

At the Dyalog conference held in Elsinore in October 2012 I presented a short talk on the Apprentices that Optima and Dyalog had jointly taken on. The key points of that discussion are given here.

We have talked for many years about bringing new blood into the APL community but it has always been easier said than done. Two key problems have always gotten in the way:

  • Where do we find our trainees?
  • How can a small company provide a proper training infrastructure?

With the introduction of the UK Government's Apprenticeship scheme we found that both of these issues were solved at the same time. By collaborating with the Government and local colleges we were able to utilise the apprenticeship portal which allows anyone to see what training opportunities are available around the country. In addition the Colleges are able to provide the formal training required for our apprentices to achieve a properly recognised qualification. In this case the qualification would be an NVQ.

In 2012 Optima joined the UK apprenticeship scheme and, together with our local college, advertised a position for an APL trainee. Once the applicants had been thinned out and short listed we gave them some tasks to perform. They were asked to logon to the Dyalog "Try APL" site and investigate a few small problems prior to interview.

At this point Dyalog showed an interest in what we were doing and, at one of our regular update meetings, we decided to take on three trainees between us and share in the collective load of teaching them APL.

By now we had spent about 10 weeks from start to finish. We had spent very little money only time and had a very effective collaborative group (Government, College and Corporation) providing for the needs of our trainees over the next 12 months.

Before starting this initiative our aims were broadly;

  • Bring new people into our community
  • Find talent
  • Generate a resource stream
  • Explore the interest in the general community
  • Generate opportunity for the trainees and for ourselves
  • Co-operation with other companies

So far all of our expectations have been met and we are very hopeful for the future. If the coming months work out well we hope to do the same thing next year and meet one of our aims which is to generate a resource stream.

The collaborative concept is working very well indeed and we very much want to expand this idea out to other companies who also might want to ‘share’ or ‘loan’ staff or maybe simply give their existing APL staff experience of other working environments.

So where are we going next;

  • Continue the training of our apprentices and identify their strengths, likes, dislikes etc.
  • Hopefully the apprentices will complete their year, gain a solid background in APL and have an industry recognised qualification
  • If successful repeat next year and subsequent years
  • Encourage a staff share with Dyalog
  • Expand the concept of a staff share or training share with other companies
  • Spread the word

We hope that there will be regular updates on this story over the coming months and that it will generate considerable interest with all of our community.

And by the way, the apprentices have created a blog which aims to record their experiences; please take a look.

Watch this space – the boys are coming!


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