A COMPANY in Hemingford Grey is aiming to revolutionise the career path for software developers in the UK by launching a long-term apprenticeship scheme. Mel Pullen, an ex-Acorn Computers team member, has recruited seven apprentices who will learn their craft from master programmers at his firm, ScrumIT. Rather than relying on university-trained staff, Mr Pullen is experimenting with bringing through staff of his own, from apprenticeship through to full contract at the firm, which specialises in control systems and mobile communications. He hopes to change the way in which software development skills are passed on in the UK. The intention is that the apprentices, aged between 16 and 24, will stay with the company after they have completed their apprenticeships to create a skilled and loyal workforce. The scheme is being run in conjunction with Cambridge Regional College, and Mr Pullen hopes that the scheme will spread to other UK hi-tech companies. "It's been a struggle getting up to this point, said Mr Pullen. "We're advertising for school leavers to come and be apprentices. It's going to be even more of a daily headache making sure that we can respond to their questions adequately over the next few weeks and still keep the business going, but I believe it will be worthwhile. "Cambridge Regional College is working with us to create an apprenticeship course for computer programmers from the ground up. We've also had help from the e-skills UK sector Skills Council to create the syllabus that we need for our work, and from the City and Guilds, who are validating the qualification." The apprenticeship is run using the "Scrum" management framework, based on principles of openness and teamwork which aim to make teams as efficient as possible. Mr Pullen added: "Many teams using Scrum report significant improvements and in some cases complete transformations in both productivity and morale. That's USP that our approach, combined with a modern apprenticeship scheme, will bring to our future ScrumIT clients.