Unlocking tech industry career pathways for young people

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Minister for Social Services
Member for Kingston

The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education
Member for Blaxland

MEDIA RELEASE

THURSDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2024

Unlocking tech industry career pathways for young people

The Albanese Labor Government is helping more young people, including those experiencing disadvantage or increased barriers to employment, receive training and experience for future careers in tech with the launch of a Virtual Work Experience Program.

The program – a result of the Albanese Labor Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit and designed by the Tech Council of Australia – aims to help young people and post-school leavers aged 14-25 build their skillset through online modules that were designed in collaboration with companies including Microsoft, the Commonwealth Bank and the National Broadband Network.

The virtual work experience will go towards securing future jobs in the technology sector and provide industry-relevant experience for participants’ resumes.

Importantly, young people with disability will also be included in the program – with the aim of shifting the gap in disability youth employment. Around 39 per cent of 15-24 year olds with disability are employed, compared to 63.5 per cent of 15-24 year olds without disability.

The program continues the Tech Council of Australia’s focus on creating more disability employment pathways in its goal to reach 1.2 million jobs in tech by 2030.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the launch of the Virtual Work Experience program would help to break down employment barriers and help those from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from the growth in tech jobs.

“This virtual program will engage disadvantaged young people and other groups under-represented in the tech sector, such as people with disability, to realise their potential to be part of the fastest growing job industry in Australia,” Minister Rishworth said.

“Tech Council of Australia has worked with an expert advisory panel to ensure the program’s accessibility for young people with disability, through measures such as closed captions and transcripts.

“We are committed to creating an inclusive Australia. This outcome of the Jobs and Skills Summit is an example of how we can achieve this by supporting inclusive educational opportunities that help young people reach their ambitions.”

Minister for Education Jason Clare said the program is now available in schools and is aimed at students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The tech industry is growing at almost twice the rate of the rest of economy. There are 860,000 Australians working in tech and we need even more,” Mr Clare said.

“This initiative will give students a chance to see if a career in tech is right for them.”

Chair of the Tech Council, Robyn Denholm said she wanted to see more young Australians moving into these critical jobs of the future.

“Tech jobs are amongst the fastest-growing and best-paid jobs in our economy,” Ms Denholm said. 

“I particularly encourage more young Australians from diverse backgrounds to explore tech careers. It’s a very egalitarian industry, we want more women, Indigenous Australians, people with disability and those living in our outer suburbs and regional Australia to have the ability to access these fulfilling careers.

“As someone who grew up in south-western Sydney and attended a public high school, I know first-hand that your background shouldn’t stop you from dreaming big in tech.”

Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Travers McLeod said the program was a great initiative that will open up pathways for people experiencing disadvantage or living with a disability.

“We know this industry is growing at a rapid rate, and it’s essential we help everyone who is interested to get a foot in the door and build their confidence and capability, regardless of their circumstances,” Mr McLeod said.

“Such innovative initiatives being implemented from the Jobs Summit give us hope that similar ambition will be brought to the broader employment services reform project following the Workforce Australia Review and Working Future White Paper.”

The virtual work experience modules will help students develop skills in a wide range of areas, from cyber security and software engineering to data science and network engineering.

Students will be introduced to real world tech roles getting to immerse themselves in interactive activities and ‘Day in the Life’ videos.

Youth employment organisation Year13 will be promoting the program. Tech Council Australia and Year13 are aiming to reach more than 200,000 young people online via social media over the next two years through a targeted campaign.

The program will also be available to more than 2200 schools on the Career Tools Platform.

The Virtual Work Experience program can be accessed at: https://year13.com.au/virtual-job-experience.