Reports that show Australia needs an additional 100,000 tech workers in the next five years.
Compounding this issue, there are currently less than 5,000 local graduates coming out of university with an ICT-related degree each year, leaving a huge and growing shortfall of skilled tech talent.
In a bid to plug this gap, Microsoft recently launched a landmark traineeship program that combines a Certificate IV in Information Technology with paid work experience at some of Australia’s leading organisations.
Below, The Educator speaks to Microsoft Australia's National Skills Program Lead, Beth Worrall, to find out more.
TE: Can you tell us about the work you’re currently doing with schools across Australia?
BW: Microsoft Australia works with many schools across the country through our associations with Departments of Education, Catholic Diocese and Independent Schools organisations. We support schools with professional learning opportunities for teachers and school leaders both face to face and online via our Learning Delivery Specialists, who are trained teachers. For example, Microsoft ran the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Program for 90 teachers last year, as well delivered personal development workshops for thousands more. We also provide online support and curriculum resources via the Microsoft Educator Community, a vibrant global resource for teachers looking to further their skills in integrating technology in the classroom.
TE: In your view, what are some of the key benefits of this traineeship program for Australian secondary school leaders who are looking to improve career pathways for their students?
BW: This program will deliver a range of benefits to participating students, specifically: an opportunity to “earn while you learn” – students won’t end up incurring a large HECS debt; an opportunity to get practical work experience with one of Australia’s leading businesses – for example, Microsoft, ANZ, DXC, Datacom; an opportunity to create and build professional networks with technology and business leaders - either at work, through MEGT and through a mentoring program that matches trainees with Microsoft mentors; a nationally recognised qualification – a Certificate IV in IT and a set of Microsoft Azure qualifications at no cost.
TE: There has been a huge focus in encouraging girls into technology careers. How might this traineeship program achieve that in ways that others have not?
BW: We recognise that attracting women and girls to consider IT as a career is a challenge facing all technology companies and educational institutions. Many businesses have been attracted to the program in order to increase the diversity of their workforce – particularly in relation to attracting more female talent. Microsoft, MEGT and TAFE NSW are working extremely hard to attract girls into this program as a key priority. We are leveraging the communications and program development lessons from programs run by Microsoft in other geographies, including the US and the UK. In addition to targeted recruitment campaigns, we are looking to partner with girls schools in Sydney to increase the numbers of female applicants. As part of the communications campaign, we will be showcasing several Microsoft female employees who have created a successful career in IT following VET training. Microsoft is looking to develop a mentoring program that provides extra mentoring and support to participating girls – connecting them to female leaders in technology to help grow their skills, confidence and connections. Many of the participating companies offer additional programs and developmental opportunities for females in their workforce.