How IBM is helping to skill South Australian students for the jobs of the future

By Jade Moffat Herman, Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, IBM A/NZ

After almost seven years at IBM Australia and New Zealand, you don’t need to tell me how rewarding a career in technology can be. In my role as Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, I am honoured to work closely with leading public sector, not-for-profit and educational organisations to maximise opportunities – and impact – for people hoping to establish their own technology careers.

Building these kinds of meaningful partnerships and programs is particularly important now, with the recent uptick in digital transformation initiatives increasing demand for already scarce digital skills.

According to the Australian Computing Society, we’ll need an extra 60,000 technology workers each year to meet Australia’s growing information and communications technology (ICT) needs. With only around 7,000 local ICT graduates each year, it’s clear that conventional ways of sourcing high-demand digital skills won’t be enough to bridge this gap.

At IBM, we want to make it easier for people to gain the skills and capabilities they need to fill technology roles. We also believe businesses, non-governmental organisations, universities and schools need to work together to ensure students are given the opportunities to tap into the full range of possibilities that a career in technology holds.

That’s why we’re offering our SkillsBuild for Students online program to high schools across South Australia for students and teachers to develop their digital skills over six months.

Offered in partnership with the South Australian Government and AustCyber’s South Australian Cyber Security Innovation Node, the program helps students gain valuable cyber skills that will help prepare them for success in the technology sector. Along with courses on key technical skills that align to industry growth areas like AI, cloud computing and cybersecurity, the program also covers emerging technologies and foundational workplace skills.

One of things I really like about the program is that students can also earn digital badges from IBM and other companies, which they can share with potential employers as part of an online resume.

Helping students take the first steps in their careers

The SkillsBuild for Students program is just one part of IBM’s global commitment to help 30 million people of all ages gain the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow by 2030.

IBM has been preparing students for fulfilling careers in technology for 10 years through our P-TECH (Pathways to Technology Early College High School) program. P-TECH is an innovative school model that connects secondary schools, further education and businesses. It integrates high school and further education coursework with work-ready skills like good communication, teamwork and problem-solving. The program also incorporates student mentoring, workplace visits and projects, work experience and paid internships with industry partners, ensuring students receive maximum value from it.

Since P-TECH’s launch, more than 300 schools across 28 countries have adopted this innovative educational model. Here in Australia, I’ve been privileged to meet and work with many of the young people who have successfully completed the program. This year, I was particularly pleased that IBM was able to offer five talented P-TECH students paid 18-month P-TECH traineeships at IBM, which will see them benefit from hands-on training as they complete their Diplomas of Information Technology.

Now, with the SkillsBuild for Students program, we hope to help even more students around the world take the first steps towards a fulfilling career in technology.

We know, for example, that cybersecurity is shaping up to be one of the biggest issues of this decade. It impacts almost every aspect of our lives, from national security through to personal safety and wellbeing. But, with a shortage of people with cyber skills in Australia, we need innovative ways to fast track young people into these critical areas of need.

By working with the South Australian Government and AustCyber’s South Australian Cyber Security Innovation Node, we hope to unlock these opportunities for students and ensure they have the foundational skills needed to be able to fully participate in and contribute the digital economy.

Partnering for success

The great thing about initiatives like the SkillsBuild for Students program is that they allow us to build on curriculum-based cybersecurity initiatives in the classroom and promote the cyber sector to Australia’s next generation of workers.

With an estimated 7,000 new direct jobs needed in the cybersecurity sector by 2024, now is the time to give our students the skills they need to be ready to meet our future challenges.

“Students will have the opportunity to embed learning on everything from the basics, right through to the complexities in cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the emerging technology of tomorrow. It will give them an edge in any vocation they decide to go on to study, and when entering the workforce.”

I look forward to seeing where that edge takes the students who participate in this program!






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