Closing the Talent Gap with Learner-Centric Programs


Session Overview

As the need for skilled Drupal talent increases and puts further pressures on organizations, we need to examine how to best ramp up new talent to be productive and quickly contribute to Drupal projects.  For this presentation, we will use the personas of Newcomer, Learner, and Skilled and demonstrate how long-form* Drupal learning programs can drive greater levels of adoption, effectiveness, and efficiency in Drupal learning.


Long-form learning programs build stackable skills that provide an extremely strong foundation for long-term career growth. This format allows for a focus on targeted learning and skill development to specific roles, time to explore a specialization, and time to develop practical skills through hands-on learning.  Typical Drupal training is delivered through short-form courses (day-long or multi-day long courses) and focuses on developing specific skills that align to system architecture (i.e. Site Building, Custom Module Development).  In contrast, long-form programs can focus more on developing skills that align to specific job roles and more fully develop specific skill levels - stackable skill development.  The authenticity of the project based learning allows participation to apply what they have learned to real-world experiences.  We will open for discussion on how we can use this format to quickly ramp new and skilled talent from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, and bring Newcomers into Drupal 8.  


This session is targeted at team leads, project managers, and development shops who are looking to grow their bench strength of talent in an efficient and effective manner, and ramp teams up from Newcomer to D8.  


*Long-form programs offer a multi-week, hands-on approach to learning where students experience formal lecture, individual and group projects, and time for exploration.


Speaker Bios

Michael Anello (@ultimike) is co-founder and vice president of DrupalEasy, a Drupal training and consulting firm based in Central Florida. He developed and teaches the Drupal Career Starter Program, an intensive, long-form career training program. He has been one of the main organizers of the Florida Drupal Users' Group and Florida DrupalCamps for over six years, and can be heard interviewing fellow Drupal community members, talking about current Drupal news, and highlighting new and upcoming modules on the twice-monthly DrupalEasy Podcast. He has spoken at numerous Drupal events around the world including 4 DrupalCons, over a dozen DrupalCamps, and many meetups.


DrupalCamp Atlanta session: "Drupal 8 Migrate in Core Update" -


DrupalCamp Atlanta: "Drupal in Ed Keynote Panel" -


Amy Parker (@amyjparker) is the Director of AcquiaU, a unique Drupal Talent Incubator program designed to bring new technologists, especially under-represented people like women, minorities, and returning Veterans into a career in Drupal.  She has over 17 years of experience designing and delivering innovative learning programs for the technology sector. She is collaborating with StemFuse on their project to bring Drupal into +1,000 high school curriculums.  She has presented at the Boston Drupal Meetup, and has been a guest podcaster on the DrupalEasy Podcast.  She attends New England DrupalCamps and Regional Developer events.


James Barnett (@barnettech) is an application architect and adjunct Professor at Babson College, where he has developed and architected numerous Drupal solutions. He is the author of several Drupal contrib modules, including Droogle, and Jabber. In the last three years at Babson, James’ team has released “advanced discussion boards,” as well as Faculty and Student Portal sites. James holds a Masters in Economics and Finance from Brandeis University, and as well a BA from Brandeis University. Past work experiences in the technology space include positions at: EMC, Fidelity, and IDG. James’ areas of expertise include: PHP, MySQL, Oracle, SQL, PL/SQL, Unix/Linux, shell scripting, Apache, Java, Perl, XSLT, JSON, XML, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, network operations, information management, load balancers, and front and back-end web work.

Mark Sakurada (@msakurada) is a Senior Technical Architect at Acquia and a graduate of the first long-form Drupal training program at Acquia, where he began his Drupal career as a Technical Consultant.  He is an active member of the returning Veteran’s recruiting initiative and has been a speaker at local events and most recently delivered a talk on Performance Testing at BadCamp 2014.  

Session Track

Business and Strategy

Experience Level


Drupal Version