DTA cranks digital skills program

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Digital Transformation Agency will recruit and place 250 new entry-level digital staff across federal departments and agencies over the next year as part of a drive to improve government’s in-house service delivery capability.

The agency is expecting 1,000 applicants for the digital cadetship and digital apprenticeship roles. The cadet positions are offered to students currently undertaking tertiary studies in ICT, while the apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers and vocational educational students of ICT.

“There is enormous interest in this. People know that these are the important skills of the present and of the future,” assistant minister for digital transformation Angus Taylor said. “The public service is a great place to build those skills, so we are expecting 300 cadets and 700 apprentices to apply.”

The program is a part of a $14 million budget commitment over three years to build digital capability inside government. The DTA is working with the Australian Public Service Commission to design future digital literacy programs across the public service.

The DTA’s newly-anointed Chief Digital Officer Peter Alexander will lead the digital capability building effort, as well rebuilding the delivery functions within the agency. Mr Alexander had originally been recruited as a chief operating officer by Paul Shetler, the former CEO of the agency’s original incarnation as the Digital Transformation Office.

In addition to bringing in cadets, apprentices and graduate program staff into entry-level position, the program will also introduce talent retention initiatives – including the introduction of better defined career pathways – as well a training for training and digital literacy programs for the most senior levels of executives inside the public service.

Mr Taylor concedes the DTA will be in hot competition with the private sector to attract the best available entry-level tech talent into the public service, and says that competition will not be on price alone.

“Government is a great place to work and to build skills,” Mr Taylor said.

“We are the biggest buyers of ICT in Australia, and we are modernising – that has been a real push – the way that we do things [in government]. We are pushing toward much more focus on user experience and agile methodologies,” he said.

“That means this is a terrific place for people to get in and build their skills.”

He said the design of more formalised career paths for digital talent, as well as better defined programs of internal support and mentorship would be important to improving talent retention rates.

“I am OK with people circling in and out of the private sector over time. It should work that way,” Mr Taylor said. “But we don’t want a brain drain from the public sector.”

“We have to make sure that we have the best people in ICT in Australia working in the public sector.”

“The thing that we can offer more than anything else is exciting projects with very high impacts.”

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