Woolworths, Accenture turn to refugees for tech talent

“When they heard about this program, they were excited that they would have the opportunity to highlight the fact they qualified,” Ms Hunter said.

Cadets will assign a mentor and work on projects in Woolworths ’IT department, WooliesX, or in its data analytics department, WiQ.

‘Unused talent pool’

“The refugee cohort we spoke to was really an untapped talent pool and corporate Australia in general is really looking for more tech and digital talent,” Ms Hunter said.

“We have a business need and there are some very well qualified and talented people in this group who it’s not their fault have had a hard time finding access to opportunities.”

Aabed Lubbad, who arrived in Australia as a refugee from Syria in 2017, will begin a 12-week paid cadetship at Woolworths Group Technology in July.

“I’m excited because I’ve been looking forward to this moment since I came to Australia,” he said.

For the last four years, Mr. Lubbad has worked at a gas station at night to leave his school days free. He first learned to speak English, and then he started studying IT at TAFE.

Last year he enrolled in a bachelor of ICT (information and communications technology) at Western Sydney University, but despite the demand for technological talent did not find a role.

‘Fill the skill gap’

“Even when I was studying at TAFE and uni, I was applying for a job. But without experience, it is very difficult to find a job in IT. I just hope to start work in the real world, ”Mr Lubbad said.

The five-month digital skills training program also includes a three-day soft-skills and work resilience course led by Community Corporate, an organization that helps refugees find work, and an eight-week industry-accredited training program led. by software company ServiceNow.

Eric Swift, managing director of ServiceNow Australia and New Zealand, said the program was developed to help its customers and partners, such as Woolworths and Accenture, source more diverse and sought -after tech talent.

“The number one thing we hear from our customers and partners is,‘ we want to fill that skills gap and fill it with individuals who can be productive right away in their business or organization ’,” he said. .

“These new approaches are needed to empower people from a wide range of backgrounds using these in-demand skills.”

With customers in 70 percent of the ASX 200, Mr Swift hopes more companies will join the program.

While employers pay cadets ’salaries, the program is also partially funded by the government’s Digital Skills Cadetship Trial, a $ 10.7 million fund to increase the number of Australians from diverse backgrounds working in the technology sector.

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