Tech workers wanted, no experience required
The rise of blue tech jobs - highly technical roles requiring vocational education - has accelerated in response to COVID-19.
But too few people are training for positions under the misguided belief they are not smart enough.
MEGT general manager Colin McCabe wants potential workers to realise that all they need to start in the IT industry is an aptitude for learning.
The training organisation has partnered with Microsoft and is seeking almost 100 people from across Australia to complete a two-year IT traineeship.
McCabe fears a lack of confidence is preventing many suitable candidates from applying.
"A lot of the potential candidates presume (the traineeship) is more complex than it is or that the employers have expectations about (a candidate's prior) exposure to technology," he says.
"They just think it's beyond their skillset.
"But when we screen the candidates, we screen them based on their aptitude and how they perform in terms of raw skills.
"Employers know (that offering the traineeship) is not about getting an immediate return on investment - it's about trying to identify the potential in the individuals, knowing they haven't had any STEM experience.
"For the kids that qualify, they can really demand amazing money and a lot of opportunities that they would never have dreamt of.''
Demand for blue tech workers, including those employed in cyber security and cloud-related services, has skyrocketed as a result of COVID-19, with experts believing the vocational sector is the best-placed to train those entering the workforce.
Pre-pandemic, Australia was estimated to need more than 100,000 more technology workers by 2024, while another 303,000 workers would be required to boost their digital capabilities to continue in their roles.
TAFE Directors Australia say both estimates have now been revised upwards.
In a joint submission with Cisco and Optus that calls on the Federal Government to urgently fund new digital skillset courses, TDA says blue tech jobs have the potential to offset other roles that are lost to automation and will be critical to businesses seeking to return to profitability.
Chief executive Craig Robertson says as with traditional blue-collar jobs, the roles require diploma rather than degree-level qualifications.
"Blue tech jobs are highly paid and in-demand in areas like cyber security, data analytics and the Internet of Things,'' he says.
Former engineer Roxanne Lee Destor says a traineeship has offered her a clear path to transition into the IT sector.
She says industry placements she undertook while qualifying for her previous role made her recognise the value of on-the-job learning, which has long been a hallmark of vocational education.
"Besides learning IT skills, what I enjoy in the traineeship is the camaraderie of the team that I am in at (host employer) KPMG and my classmates at TAFE,'' Destor says.
Originally published as Tech workers wanted, no experience required