Scottish software development company Workpro is proactively investing in the future of computer science and emerging technologies while at the same time creating opportunities for the next generation of scientific talent.
It recently brought in three school pupils to see at first-hand how the business operates and has also established a temporary role for a university student who previously benefited from work experience at the company.
The work-related opportunities are in addition to three recent hires at Workpro, which is the market-facing brand of Edinburgh-based Computer Application Services Ltd (CAS), taking the employee numbers to a record 33 as it enters a new growth phase.
CAS was Scotland’s first software development company, and has grown from being the technology transfer unit of Heriot-Watt University into a case management solutions expert servicing clients throughout the United Kingdom and overseas.
The S4 and S5 pupils involved in the experience programme were Simi Adedokun, who attends St George’s School, and Marco Scully, and Manow Drysdale, who both go to George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh.
Simi said: “I was very impressed that the company is employee-owned. It seems as if everyone is a lot more invested, and that they feel they have a big part to play. I’m very interested in computer science, particularly the software engineering side.”
Marco said: “The thing I’ve liked about work experience with CAS is that we’ve not been doing just one specific thing for the entire week. We’ve been moving around, from seeing how the servers are run to how the software engineers do their thing. I think that it gives you a holistic view of the entire business.”
The students spent time in every department, from software development to marketing, learning about how a software company operates. CAS has an open management style and the students were included in business meetings, including one with CAS investors, C4C (Capital for Colleagues). Discussions about new technologies inevitably came up, AI (Artificial Intelligence) for example:
Manow said: “I think AI is quite cool technology and I have a basic understanding of how it works. It doesn’t scare me too much because I feel there are good restrictions on how it’s being used. I’m not too worried about it.”
James McLean, from Edinburgh, benefited from work experience with Workpro in 2018 and is currently engaged on a computer science course at Heriot-Watt University. He worked for the company for ten weeks over the summer before resuming his studies.
He said: “I worked on accessibility support in Workpro. That involved getting the forms to have adequate screen reader support, and doing things like making landmarks on the page so you can skip to certain sections of menus.
“Everyone at CAS is very friendly. If I ever got stuck with things there was always someone to help me. It felt like everything runs very smoothly.”
Chris Ellis, Chief Technical Officer at Workpro, said: “I think it is very important that young people are given the opportunities and encouragement to develop their careers, especially in STEM subjects which will be so crucial as the pace of technological change continues to quicken.
“It was great to have James back with us and he made a very valuable contribution while acquiring new skills which will benefit him in his ongoing studies.
“Our work experience cohort has shown great interest in how the company works, what it contributes and what it is likely to be dealing with in the future. We will need people with their curiosity and lively intelligence as technology advances.”
Workpro specialises in case management software focusing on activities such as complaint handling and HR case tracking, which allows clients to monitor progress and ensure that they remain fully compliant, even with the most complex issues.
The employee-owned company has increased its client portfolio by 400% to 60 over the past four years including clients in national and local government, financial and legal institutions, major retailers and Ombudsman services.
Growth has been catalysed by the firm’s decision to make Workpro available as a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, a method of delivery and licensing in which software is accessed online via subscription, rather than bought and installed on individual computers.