Cremorne Project to address the digital skills gap in Melbourne tech sector

Cremorne Project to address the digital skills gap in Melbourne tech sector

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) is partnering with Kangan Institute to formalise a collaborative pilot project that aims to address the digital skills shortage in one of Australia’s burgeoning tech precincts through targeted digital skills traineeships.

Key players in Cremorne who have joined the project and signed MOUs with Kangan include major employers Carsales, MYOB and Live Tiles. Together with the DSO these organisations and Kangan will develop sustainable, skills-based approaches to creating more digital workers through an employer-led model.

DSO chief executive officer Patrick Kidd said the pilot, known as the Cremorne Project, is a marketplace solution that facilitates the collaboration of employers and training providers to agree upon a syllabus, process and practice that will best suit local employer needs.

“In late 2020, the Victorian Government released a new blueprint to drive the growth of Cremorne as a centre for innovation, technology and high-skilled jobs,” Mr Kidd said.

"Work on the Cremorne Project commenced in early 2021 the launch of the project on Tuesday 10th of August marks an exciting step in formalising our collaboration with Kangan and local Cremorne employers at a strategic and working level.”

“We hope this pilot will be the first of many. We want to trial, scale and evolve the Cremorne Project to encourage other employers and training providers to adopt and use this approach to address their digital skills shortages.”

Addressing a national problem

Australia’s digital skills supply deficit is a national issue. As a nation, we are not producing the right digital talent to meet the demand of employers.

Addressing this issue begins with an employer-led approach to skills-based training. Research shows that when employers are engaged throughout the training process, employment rates in excess of 80 per cent can be achieved – creating a more diverse talent pool that can flourish and grow in the digital sector.

“COVID-19 has drastically reduced skilled migration and ramped up competition for digital workers,” Mr Kidd said. “The competition for talent is unsustainable; small tech companies will not survive in the current environment. Australia has not seen an employment market like this for digital talent for many years.”

The skills gap is further compounded by the changing nature of jobs: 21 per cent of the workforce could be displaced by automation by 2034.

New digital technologies are changing the way Australians live and work. The 2019 Joyce report noted that emerging technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will affect the nature and type of jobs available and the skills and capabilities required to perform both new and existing jobs.

“The Cremorne Project will pilot a new way of bringing together employers and training providers,” Mr Kidd said. “This dynamic and collaborative exchange will be a massive knowledge sharing and product building process to accelerate the growth of diverse and valued digital professionals in Cremorne. If successful, this initiative can be replicated to counteract the skills shortage in the national economy.”

VET sector to play a key role

Empowering the vocational and educational training (VET) sector is critical if Australia is to address its digital skills deficit. The sector plays a key role in Australia’s education system, which provides an accessible pathway into work for people from diverse backgrounds and mature age workers.

Kangan Institute chief executive Sally Curtain said the Cremorne Project was a natural progression in the history of the campus. Traditionally reflecting neighbouring industries such as fashion and textiles, it is now known as the Digital + Creative Skills Campus.

“We’re listening to what employers want in terms of technical skills and soft skills, as well as getting an appreciation of their ways of working,” Ms Curtain said.

“For our offering to be relevant, the right technologies must be embedded into the course, the technologies that are actually being used.”

“This is not about designing a course and letting it remain static. It will need to constantly evolve.”

Ms Curtain said the VET sector was well-placed to meet tech industry needs today and tomorrow.

“When it comes to cloud computing technicians, database managers and other roles, technical skills and education are required, but not necessarily a university degree,” Ms Curtain said.

The pool of new talent needs to be broadened in order to meet the demand from employers.

“By broadening that pool beyond university graduates, we can find people from all backgrounds and levels of education who may not have been considered before,” Ms Curtain said.

Mr Kidd said the system must change to meet the needs of employers, shifting its focus from job roles to skills and capabilities.

“The DSO is working closely with employers to place them at the heart of the VET sector and give them leadership and ownership of the qualification development process and apprenticeships to better match skills development to their specific workforce needs,” Mr Kidd said.

The DSO is a government-funded pilot established to connect employers, training providers, peak bodies and government to create innovative solutions to one of Australia’s most pressing issues. Its mission is to develop sustainable skills-based approaches to create a digitally upskilled, job-ready workforce.

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