Doris wants to shrink the tech skills gap with a fresh approach to outsourcing

Martin Bryant, October 10, 2017 2 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

Dealing with the serious skills shortage in tech requires fresh thinking. A great example of this is Liverpool-based firm Doris. It exists to do away with the perception that only people from a technical background can work in IT. And then it makes it easy for them to make the leap.

Doris works with fresh and recent graduates (and even some people without a degree) who want to work in IT. They don’t need an industry-specific qualification, just the passion and drive to succeed in the sector.

Doris’ Amy Gornall, says the company has placed people who have gone on to succeed in roles like project management, business analysis, coding, testing, and data analysis. It works as an outsourcing firm, providing competitively priced workers to IT firms, while paying those workers’ salaries. After they’ve been on Doris’ books for a year, the company will fund workers through a professional qualification.

Gornall herself is an example of someone who has gone through the Doris programme. Two years after joining as a drama graduate, she now looks after the firm’s website, SEO and marketing.

Why Doris?

Doris was founded in 2012 by two women who had risen to senior roles in IT; Chris McHugh and Kath Lucass. Having spent lots of money offshoring work or hiring domestic contractors at expensive day rates, they wanted to work on getting more of the next generation into the industry.

Gornall explains that McHugh and Lucass thought Doris would be a one-year experiment to place 20 people before they went back to their own careers. But success bred more success and they’ve continued to build the firm, starting with placements in Manchester before expanding to Liverpool, Warrington, Macclesfield and Birmingham. The company currently has 70 people on its books.

The company’s unusual name came from McHugh and Lucass feeling like ‘aunt Doris’ talking to young graduates. But their first customer said they’d take on 10 of their staff if they kept the name. The deal was done and the name stuck.

A social mission

Gornall says the company’s biggest rival is FDM, a large company that places people into IT roles all over the world. However, while FDM mandates a period of unpaid training, Doris pays from the start.

Doris pays employees a full-time salary (starting at £20,000 for graduates and increasing with experience). Meanwhile, Doris charges a competitive rate to its client companies.

Gornall is enthusiastic about Doris’ ‘social mission’ to shrink the tech skills gap. The company’s success shows that when it comes to jumping into a career you’re not necessarily qualified for, it’s worth talking to ‘aunt Doris.’

skills, Startup stories, talent