ACS launches program to get Canberra women into tech sector jobs

Brandon How

The Canberra branch of the Australian Computer Society will launch its Supporting Women Transitioning to an ICT Career initiative on Thursday morning, providing an online curriculum and access to an industry mentor to women who may have had no prior background in the tech industry.

Participating women will have the opportunity to engage with two online programs, as part of a pre-traineeship program developed to help and encourage a transition to tech, but does not provide any qualifications or accreditation.

This 12-month program targets women with no prior background in ICT with applications for the 40 available spots oversubscribed.

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The Australian Capital Territory Minister for Skills Chris Steel will launching the program on Thursday, and said he was excited to be a part of it.

“Addressing barriers for women entering the IT industry has the potential to address skills shortages in the IT industry while at the same time enhancing workplace equity and inclusion. I wish the participants every success in their completion of this program and thank them in advance for the contributions they will make to the IT industry,” Mr Steel said.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) suggests that participants dedicate two to four hours a week to the program. Tasmanian coaching specialist Shaping Change is providing the online coaching modules and sessions. The ICT skills programs is being delivered through the ACS existing online learning accelerator, which is aligned with the international Skills Framework for the Information Age.

ACS Canberra branch manager Dr Vicki Gardiner said the group is also calling for organisations which may be interested in providing work experience opportunities to the participants. She also said it was important to help women overcome the confidence barriers or impostor syndrome that they might face when entering a male dominated sector.

It received funding $76,000 through the 2021-22 round of the ACT government’s Future Skills for Future Jobs program. The territory program is also supported by the federal government’s National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund.

The aim of the federal government’s fund is to boost the number of apprenticeships and traineeships undertaken. Similarly, the territory’s government program will look to identify new industry-led pathway opportunities for apprenticeships.

ACS Canberra chair Peter O’Halloran said  the territory’s tech workforce was expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.5 per cent until 2026.

“One opportunity to increase the technology workforce is to increase its gender diversity – our annual Digital Pulse report on the state of the IT workforce last year found only 29 percent of the tech sector are women – and reskilling in technology knowledge is one way we can address that imbalance,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“The program’s structure will overcome barriers such as a lack of role models, stereotypes and biases starting at school and the lack of awareness of career paths.”

He reiterated the group’s call for help from employers who are interested in appointing an entry level IT trainee.

According to the federal government’s STEM Equity Monitor 2021, of those working in STEM-qualified industries in 2020, only 28 per cent were women.

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1 Comment
  1. Digital Koolaid 2 years ago

    Please help me understand how having “no prior background in the tech industry” can bring value to the IT profession? A “background” is a thing you claim to have when you don’t have an education. Aren’t people with “no prior background in the tech industry” really imposters? Plus I’m interested in how human anatomy is relevant. Does it really matter which toilet you go to? Could this just be more of the Woke Tsunami? Thanks for the help.

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