The start of the COVID-19 pandemic created enormous pressure to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies across all areas of society – from education to eCommerce and health. This makes digital skills even more valuable than they already were, which in turn makes the necessity of closing existing skill gaps even more urgent.
In line with Zenva’s mission to help create successful careers and hobbies in programming, our team decided to join the ICT Gateway to Industry Schools Program (GISP). This initiative from the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT), and run by the Australian Computer Society, aims to provide secondary students, parents, and teachers with industry connections and professional development opportunities in the ICT space.
As part of this engagement, we have been able to partake in activities such as:
- Interactive panels and Q&A sessions at local high schools
- Mentoring sessions with entrepreneurial students and teachers
- Lesson content audits and enhancements to help align classroom delivery with industry practice
- Provision of scholarships to local teachers for the Zenva curriculum
From our participation in the program, as well as our numerous conversations with local educators and students, we’ve come out with the following insights and recommendations:
1. Low female participation in technical career paths is the most pressing concern. This is visible in local schools as early as in year 7. Potential solutions include having more female mentors and role models, enhancing the visibility of the numerous benefits and flexibility that ICT careers offer, and presenting a more well-rounded view of what working in tech actually looks like in 2021 (the importance of soft skills, communication, and teamwork). More research in this area is needed.
2. Many local students pursue side projects in coding and robotics. In our experience, hobby projects provide as much, if not more, learning opportunities than what’s delivered in the classroom, and should be encouraged at all costs. Students should be given time to develop and grow these initiatives, as well as encouraged to document them and to share them with others.
3. Digital skills are needed to pursue most career paths these days – not just those traditionally grouped under the ICT umbrella. It would be beneficial to incorporate more digital skills in all subjects. A lot of this is being done already and educators seem to be well-aware of this need.
Participating in this program has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity, and has only strengthened our long-term commitment to creating successful coding careers and hobbies. Hopefully, initiatives such as this can have a long-lasting impact in the community, and allow more students to undertake careers in the areas of ICT.
Interested in bringing Zenva to your workforce and educational community? Please contact us HERE. We look very much forward to hearing from you.