Telstra Creator Space Render - Melbourne Connect - University of Melbourne
Tech and Innovation | Telstra News |

Building Australia’s technology future through education

By Alex Badenoch July 13, 2020

We’re committed to playing our part in building a pipeline of technology talent in Australia. So we’re partnering with a number of universities to equip graduates with the skills and adaptability they need to succeed in our rapidly changing global environment. Our latest partnership is a $5.14M investment in the Telstra Creator Space (fabrication lab) at University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect technology and innovation precinct and 10 scholarships in STEM that focus on diversity and inclusion.

Having a highly-skilled, diverse and practically trained technology workforce is critical to the success of Telstra and of the nation. And yet, we have an estimated shortfall of 60,000 skilled ICT workers in Australia over the next five years. More of these skills must be developed locally.

As one of the country’s biggest employers and a major driver of the digital economy, we’re committed to playing a part in the solution. Investing in STEAM is required to transform Australia into an innovation hub and support businesses that are themselves transforming. To that end, our partnership with the University of Melbourne is our next education investment and part of our ongoing collaboration with five Australian universities to build a strong foundation for STEAM skills education for the future.

As part of our partnership with the University of Melbourne, a new Telstra Creator Space at the Melbourne Connect technology and innovation precinct will give students, start-ups and industry access to an onsite fabrication and prototyping facility, running workshops, events and industry-based projects. Our partnership will enable research and development between Telstra and the university focused on technology, engineering and innovation concepts. This laboratory will support open innovation using world-class equipment, letting students gain practical experience and a real-world understanding of highly technical concepts.

To further demonstrate our long-term commitment to boosting diversity in Australia’s digital economy, we will also offer 10 Technology and Innovation Scholarships for University of Melbourne students in a program that aims to increase the number of women and Indigenous Australians in STEM, particularly from rural and regional areas. We’re starting these scholarships with two awards in August 2020 to female students or students of Indigenous descent intending to become professionally qualified engineers or technology professionals.

Why developing technology talent is such an urgent issue

Technology skills shortages in Australia were already an urgent issue before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We now need to boost numbers at a much faster rate to support our nation’s transforming businesses and the digitisation of our economy. Fewer new students in Australia currently enter STEM degrees than in other OECD countries, and we need to change that.

We’re working with universities to enhance student learning, implement industry placement and work experience, research and career opportunities. This includes innovation in curriculum design and delivery, particularly to support the continuous learning or reskilling of those already in the workforce. Micro-credentials are a great example of this and it’s encouraging to see the government also recognise the importance of these qualifications.

So far we’ve partnered with RMIT Online and the University of Technology Sydney on new micro-credential programs covering software defined networking, data analytics and machine learning. These programs are helping to upskill our own teams, but are also open to anyone who is interested. Such partnerships are an example of how business and education providers can collaborate to jointly develop the critical technology skills Australia needs.

A new innovation precinct for Melbourne

This is an artist’s impression and does not represent health and safety standards of the Telstra Creator Space.

Melbourne Connect is the University of Melbourne’s new technology and innovation precinct. It will bring together world-class research, industry, government and higher-degree STEM students in a space that will foster engagement, collaboration and networking.

Our investment in this new precinct will help realise its potential, fostering Melbourne Connect as a hub of technology innovation. We and the University of Melbourne share an ambition for transformation and an appetite for collaboration – we both want to grow Australia’s technology talent pipeline and to equip graduates with the skills and practical experience they need to succeed.

Melbourne Connect is expected to be completed in late 2020 and open to students in 2021. We look forward to the opportunities it offers to Australia’s brightest science, engineering and technology students, and for our industry and education partners to bring innovation to life.

College students studying in library
Telstra Careers | Telstra News |

Investing in Australia’s future technology talent

By Andrew Penn October 16, 2019

As we look at the future of our business and the work we will be doing, we are confronted with a growing problem. It is one that many other businesses are also facing – demand for highly-skilled technology talent is vastly outstripping supply.

But we are not sitting by and watching this problem unfold. We are partnering with Australian tertiary institutions to help widen the talent pipeline for the future of work.

Work, redefined

When I was 15 years old, I worked as a shipping clerk in London. My job saw me using pen and paper, punch card and computer tape. People even smoked in the office!

Last year marked my 40th year in the workforce, and as I reflect on that first job, I am reminded that it no longer exists. This is a stark reminder of the impact technological convergence, digitisation and globalisation have had on the nature of work.

I have had a front-row seat to see how technology has changed the workplace. Some roles evolve and others disappear entirely. At the same time, overall employment has increased along with productivity and efficiency, with the advent of cheaper computing power and better connectivity.

Technology will continue to drive changes in our lives and in the workplace – the real issue, then, is how we respond and prepare ourselves for the future.

As we confront the realities of a workforce that is changing faster than ever before, we must think hard about the talent pipeline for our current and future business needs.

Widening the pipeline

The problem we face as a business is a numbers game: today, we cannot find the skills we need in Australia at the scale we need them.

It is estimated Australia will have a shortfall of 60,000 skilled ICT workers in the next five years. For more global context, Australia had around 1,200 new software engineers in the last 12 months, compared to 44,000 in India. That means for every new software engineering graduate in Australia, there are 40 in India.

Australia must build more of these skills locally and as one of the country’s biggest employers we are committed to play a part in this.

One way we are doing this is by establishing a partnership program with five Australian universities to jointly develop the technology skills and capabilities Australia needs for the innovative workplaces of the future.

We have signed Memorandums of Understanding with RMIT University, University of Melbourne, UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney and University of Technology, Sydney. Under these agreements, we will work with each university to enhance student learning through placements and work-integrated experiences, research and innovation opportunities, and more development including early access to career opportunities.

By investing time, money and energy into these partnerships, we aim to provide clarity on the skills we need and create real-world opportunities for students to develop them. Together with universities, we can boost the supply of diverse technology graduates for our own workforce and the nation.

These memorandums will stay in place for at least two years and we are currently working with our university partners on the first set of priorities under the agreements.

Ultimately, we want to develop useful opportunities for students to learn from industry experts and to gain real-world experience. We want to help graduates become skilled ICT practitioners who are prepared for the workforce of the future from the moment they are handed their degree.

These partnerships will exist alongside our employee training program. Through a $25 million investment this year alone we expect 10 per cent of our workforce to develop new skills which are critical as we transform.

A diversity of talent

As we look to the future, we also have an opportunity to support greater diversity in all its forms.

The technology industry is a male-dominated space, but we are committed to ensuring the pipeline of future talent is diverse from its beginning. To do this, the partnerships will look at ways to build curiosity in technology careers and engage a broad range of people before they reach university, including high school student outreach programs.

This early outreach extends to work we are doing through our summer vacation program, and our partnership with the Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) program to give more high school students the opportunity to develop an interest and skills in technology.

Building the workforce of the future isan urgent challenge. We do not have timeto be idle. Telstra is determined to bepart of the solution.We look forward to a successful relationship with Australia’s top universities and the technology industry graduates that we meet through thisprogram.