Insights from Tech Companies in the 'Bridge the tech talent shortage' webinar



The Australian Government is pushing STEM degrees to prepare the next generation for the future of work. This is understandable, as there is a talent shortage in the tech space already. However, todays shortage is less about the quantity of students pursuing STEM degrees and more about quality. Students are not ‘work ready’ is the message from industry.

 The new reforms to tertiary education in Australia (i.e. amount students will need to pay in the future) means that students who want to study subjects in the Arts, Humanities or Law may end up spending double when compared to a Computer Science degree.

 If your child is in their final years of High School in Australia, they may be thinking career planning just became easier i.e. select a less expensive degree, that will equip them for the future of work. Sadly, this is no job guarantee.


It’s widely acknowledged, by tech companies, that Computer Science curriculums are 2+ years out of date. What your child learns can be obsolete by the time they graduate as Industry is moving rapidly – tech is changing quarterly in many instances.


This week Smart Internz brought together a panel of speakers to address ‘Bridging the tech talent shortage’. Panellist Saumya Raj, Global Talent Acquisition at Microsoft, said a tech degree alone is not enough. A combination of a degree, to give a broad foundation, with the addition of micro-credentials, to learn new tech capabilities, is a must. Companies like Microsoft are looking for agile candidates that are going add value and have the right expectations.

So, what are the right expectations and how does your child develop them?

Three words – Internships & Starting Well.

  • Internships are an opportunity for students to gain ‘real world’ experience. Adrian Tan, Work Tech Practise Leader at People Strong, acknowledges that there are too many students and not enough Internships. The introduction of remote Internships is helping to address this and opens doors to students that are less financially able. But securing an Internship, be it virtual or in person, is highly competitive. Adrian said, ‘students need to be learning and accumulating knowledge constantly’.
  • Starting Well is a short online program aimed to wrap around ‘real work experience’ with ‘real world insights’ and help to set your child up for success, confirm their passion and give our a longer term view of where we are heading – for example there may be a “Iceberg dead ahead”. Students also access ‘human skills’ development facilitated by leadership coaches working who predominantly work with Executive Teams across Government and Industry.

So, how to stand out?

Participating in hackathons, e-networking events, or interning at a start-up was the view of George Han, Venture Development and Entrepreneurship at the National University of Singapore. Opting for a degree with Work-Integrated Learning where you will have the opportunity to work on projects within companies is also key. These experiences can help you build a network, find a mentor but most importantly master your own career by promoting yourself. It’s fair to expect failures to happen, but make sure to identify what you’ve learnt from the experience.

How accessible is this?

Students are being expected to fund a degree, pay for additional micro-credentials and work for free at an internship? If this is what industry is looking for – these are clear barriers to entry for many students – be it a lack of funds, motivation or understanding.

But there are some signs of hope

Microsoft anticipates that there will be 149 million jobs created in the tech space by 2025 and they are on a mission to help up-skill 25 million people for no cost, as part of their Global Skills Initiative. Another company reframing internships is Symba, who open up pathways to paid Internship experiences.

In summary

Bringing all this together is key – a degree is no longer the magic key to future success. A mixture of real world experience, internships & micro credential courses and being alert to what’s really happening through short courses - will enable you to really Start Well. That is our passion & our viewpoint. We welcome feedback on yours 😊

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