Training more Drupalistas

We need to train more good Drupalistas. Almost every Drupal company I talked to is trying to hire talented Drupal developers, but can't find any. The demand for Drupal talent continues to exceed the supply. It is, in fact, holding back Drupal's adoption.

Some of you might have read that Chapter 3 started to provide Drupal training, that Lullabot is hiring more Drupal teachers, or that OSTraining is rolling out Drupal courses. This makes me happy as it advances the Drupal ecosystem. The training business should be an important aspect of Drupal's ecosystem, and I feel it is still underdeveloped. We should be training thousands of people a month, not hundreds of people.

Why aren't we training more Drupal developers? I'd think there is a real opportunity to make money as a Drupal training business for at least a number of reasons:

  • It addresses a real problem. Because of Drupal's continued growth, people are struggling to find the Drupal talent they need.
  • Drupal is growing in the enterprise, and one can expect a strong desire to buy Drupal training in the enterprise. I wouldn't be surprised if big players like IBM, Capgemini and Accenture, will start to offer some Drupal training to their enterprise customers. This could even result in a couple of Drupal training companies being acquired.
  • A training business can be a more scalable and more lucrative business than a consulting business.
  • There is a wide disparity between those that can assemble Drupal sites versus those who truly understand the concepts and principles behind the code. At some point, parts of the market will see value in Drupal certification programs. It is a matter of time, but when it happens, it will enable Drupal training companies to build a stronger brand.

This is a problem that we need to fix. We need more world-class Drupal talent to fulfill the demand and to let Drupal reach its potential. We need a well-rounded ecosystem that provides more Drupal training.

Comments

Gerhard Killesreiter (not verified):

I think the problem is that the companies that look to employ Drupal people largely expect to find "finished" Drupal people which simply are not in the market for employment because many can make more money and find more interesting projects by freelancing.

When I get request like "Can you recommend me some Drupal people to work for me?" I usually explain that they should look for some PHP generalists and train them. This is however not what most companies want since it costs money and such people will spend some time training before being productive on Drupal projects.

Regardless of the existence of Drupal training courses: as long as companies do still expect to find "finished" Drupal people, nothing will change here. Since there is not much incentive for a PHP generalists to pay for such courses themselves.

January 13, 2010
Balazs Dianiska (not verified):

Yeah, we have seen the same problem here in Scotland. I am setting up training courses for beginners at the moment, because when we tried to contact developers from other backgrounds, they either don't feel the need to convert (I do Joomla/my own framework/etc already), or the companies don't feel the need to train their own employees (they can learn it on their own).

But I also account this for the economy, companies (especially here in the UK) are very tight on budget, so developer training - even though for me it would make the most sense to invest in when times are hard - is just a hard sell.

January 13, 2010
Gerhard Killesreiter (not verified):

I had kept the "I don't want to do Drupal, I already do X" argument out of my post, but yeah, I've seen that too.

There even have been cases of "I see this company does Drupal but wouldn't you rather try X with which I am very familiar".

There is of course no reason you can't do X and Drupal and use whatever makes more sense for a given project.

January 14, 2010
Ryan Price (not verified):

I agree with Killes - farming from people who already know some PHP will certainly help us train Drupalists faster. On the other hand, we also need plenty of people with good web standards chops, and ultimately the project manager types as well.

Many project managers are used to waterfall - custom code projects, in-house frameworks or proprietary tools. Drupal is none of the above. The timeline and the expectations are very different.

Lots and lots of people (like us) are already doing training. Maybe the Yellow Jersey program - or something like it - could help everyone find and evaluate trainers.

January 14, 2010
Denis Lafont-Tr... (not verified):

Our Drupal Factory @ Capgemini has been training enterprise customers. Most of the case the training is directly linked to the Drupal project delivered, with hands on and so on. Other players are delivering more in depth training if needed.

What is for sure is that more and more people are trained to Drupal, at least to build/maintain a medium-complexity site. In the coming years Drupal competencies shortage will be history.

January 13, 2010
RobOrracle (not verified):

I'm all for training - I'd love to really take my Drupal knowledge to the next level, problem as always is time and money.

January 13, 2010
Diane (not verified):

Part of it might be culture!

I am an excellent teacher, a proficient graphic designer, an experienced analyst, have managed large dev teams, managed large scale projects, and produced (from html, php, on up the ladder to Drupal) over 100 websites.

I AM NOT A DEVELOPER.

January 13, 2010
Ben (not verified):

The conspiracy theorist in me would say it's because anyone with knowledge is guarding it closely to enable the monetisation of it, or at the very least the monetisation of sharing it. After all, a commonly available commodity isn't worth as much as one that is scarce.

January 13, 2010
Joren (not verified):

I think the problem in creating pro Drupal developers is that there's nothing decent to train people on.

Want to teach people how to make advanced Drupal forms? Better dive into Form API to figure out the mess of form state, processing/build hooks and caching. You will run into problems and you will need to hack core, because none of this stuff is designed for edge cases.

You also better get comfortable with a PHP debugger, because if you don't do everything exactly right, the best you'll get (if anything) is a series of cryptic error messages about not being able to use a string offset as an array. Good luck finding that missing hash character when all you get is an error about form.inc on line 1487.

Or maybe you need to extend the user system. Just remember, calling user_save() and expecting your data not to be lost is asking too much. This fundamental, deep API call is actually wired straight into the UI. CRUD? MVC? Whassat?

Hang on, maybe you're working with the theming system. Better hope none of the modules you use accidentally trigger an init_theme() too soon in the page request.

You can also forget about your ambitions to make your product intuitive and modern. Sure, you can try reimplementing pieces of the Drupal core UI, but you'll also have to duplicate all the little quirks without which your zoo of contributed modules falls apart.

Eventually you give up, and you accept that your best friend is a shortcut to the online API reference, because trying to remember which API functions take what is futile.

Who would want to learn any of this? And who even knows all of this? Better to just install CCK and Views and pretend nothing's wrong.

January 14, 2010
Robert (not verified):

Ok, help me out here. I need to learn PHP and then Drupal (or as I go learn Drupal). Is the "Learning PHP5" from O'Reilly a good start on the PHP side? Is there a similar book on the Drupal side?

January 14, 2010
Anonymous (not verified):

Someone please answer Robert's question. Do I need to learn PHP first, or can I learn Drupal without knowing any PHP?

What's the recommended way to learn PHP on your own without a class?

January 16, 2010
Tai (not verified):

You don't need to know much PHP to tackle Drupal. If are already good with CSS layout,etc then start with the Starkly template and go from there. lynda.com has a Drupal themeing training which is well done.
The book "Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming Scripting" is packed with some great information.

January 20, 2010
Anonymous (not verified):

A couple of commenters have touched on this...do you NEED to be a PHP programmer to be a good Drupal trainer? There are many of us who are skilled trainers, project managers, and site builders who have never written even a teeny bit of code. We have built some lovely and effective sites using the code written (skillfully) by others. But we do not write code ourselves.

Can we, the unprogrammers, be the effective trainers Dries is speaking of? If you wait till we learn PHP, it will be a long wait.

January 14, 2010
Pierluigi Marciano (not verified):

In Italy the shortage is even bigger than other countries and this combined with the absence of an Italian Drupal Association represents a lost opportunity to spread Drupal in our country.

We launched a site on Drupal courses www.corsidrupal.it and we are working a lot to purpose Drupal learning for freelances, companies and institutions. We feel big interest for companies and institutions but at the end they are obliged to adopt other PHP frameworks due to this professional shortage on Drupal.

We are working on a big Drupal event in Italy in May and we would like to count or your contribution.

Ciao from Milano and long life to Drupal,
Pierluigi

January 14, 2010
Yoann Babel (not verified):

We, at IDEIA (http://www.ideia.fr) are soon launching new training session in France as we also forsee a grow in Drupal skills needs.

January 14, 2010
J-P (not verified):

Does the community need more centralized and reusable resources for training? Maybe even some seeding with commercial-quality materials, if anyone who's doing comprehensive in-house training would be willing to release them.

There's stuff out there on Lullabot, d.o, Slideshare etc, but pulling it together for good developer training takes a lot of time, and if you're snowed under (precisely because you don't have a lot of Drupal-savvy developers available) training needs to fit around everything else.

January 14, 2010
Gregory Heller (not verified):

Understanding Drupal and being able to build sites in Drupal does not necessarily qualify you to train other people in it. Having the skills that make a good trainer do not always coincide with having the technical skills and expertise in a subject. We have all had brilliant yet ineffective teachers.

Building a training program, promoting it, and all the other logistics around it can be daunting, especially when there are people ready to pay you to do what you is within your comfort zone: building sites with Drupal.

There is an opportunity cost to building a training program -- not building that site someone is going to pay you for.

By all means there is seems to be plenty of demand for training, and lots of room in the market, but I don't think that @Ben's concerns are behind the shortage of training.

I think that many people with the skills are exploiting their skills to build websites rather than provide training. As more companies develop training offerings, more seasoned Drupalistas may come forth to actually provide the training (be the trainers). With the pace of development of Drupal, it will be important for any trainer to continue to have real world experience with the platform.

January 15, 2010
Steve (not verified):

Thanks for the mention Dries

We've been doing Joomla training classes for a couple of years now and it certainly build on itself with time.

After two year of doing classes every couple of months in a city, it's rewarding to see a userbase grow and successful webdesign firms started from the training you gave.

Hopefully we can do something similar in the Drupal world. Time to roll up our sleeves ...

January 18, 2010
Tai (not verified):

It important to differentiate between a "themeing level" and "module level" comfort with PHP. For front-end specialists, such as myself, deep PHP knowledge is not required to make fantastic websites.
I have heard it before "I want to learn Drupal but I don't know PHP".

Designing websites for Drupal is in fact easier than designing for Wordpress. There are not enough books and tutorials out there for Drupal yet.

January 20, 2010
Adeel Manandhar (not verified):

I was thinking of the new website that uses Drupal. I prefer Drupal to use in some of the specific site due to it's layouts and other functions. I am planning to make a local listing of directory of the school and college of my locality. I was thinking to use WordPress for the website but when I made a study than I thought Drupal is much more good than WP in some cases. I have changed my mind to make a site with Drupal now hope I will get more support with this. I definitely agree that tutorials for Drupal is less than that of WP so the teachers must bring some changes for the drupal users.

------
Adeel Manandhar
DoSurfIn.com

February 25, 2011

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