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Engaging Generation Z in Information and Communications Technology

Engaging Young People in ICT training in TAFE NSW

Demand for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workers in Australia is forecast to increase by approximately 70,000 workers in the next four years. Contrary to popular belief, the automating of 40 per cent of all jobs over the next 10 to 15 years means specialists in computing, systems and diagnostics will be highly regarded in the future. Furthermore, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia has concluded that for Australia to sustain the future automated economy, the next generation workforce must have strong ICT literacy.

So why then are enrolments in ICT classes in NSW high schools and TAFE NSW vocational education and training steadily declining? The Engaging Young People in Information Communications Technology Training in TAFE NSW research report reveals that Generation Z, the 15-24 year old student group is global, social, visual and technologically savvy but only have a general understanding of ICT, and little awareness of the huge opportunities offered by a career in this industry.

The TAFE NSW report highlights the impact of digital disruption on the future workforce across every industry and technology’s pervasiveness in all occupations. The research also identifies significant gaps in ICT career advice for young people, including high school students and the need to include parents who significantly influence young people’s career aspirations.

TAFE Western Sydney student, Sam Leatherdale completed a Certificate IV in Programing and Certificate IV in Web-based Technologies and is now preparing for the WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Melbourne. An exceptional student and gifted programmer, Sam has already started working as a web designer at 17 years of age.

“Had I known when I was in high school that I could do a course like web design or programming at TAFE, I think I would have switched earlier,” says Sam.

Keely Dixon has been working in ICT in Mudgee NSW for three years. However, Keely was not encouraged to pursue a career in ICT by career counsellors, despite studying software design and development for her Higher School Certificate. Instead, Keely applied for an ICT traineeship that was advertised in the local paper. Thanks to a strong reference from her high school ICT teacher, Keely was accepted and hasn’t looked back.

“I really like the variety of work, each day is different. I also enjoy the problem solving aspect of the job,” said Keely.

The report also discusses the diminishing rate of women studying and working in ICT. Keely acknowledges that ICT is still a male dominated industry but this doesn’t faze her. “I’m fortunate to work with a team of five guys who are very supportive and I have a great boss,” says Keely. “So it hasn’t been an issue for me.”

For a copy of the TAFE NSW Industry Liaison Unit report, please contact report author Bronnie Campbell on 9715 8033 or by email bronnie.campbell@tafensw.edu.au.