Written by Lancom Communications, June 2023
As a company in business for more than three decades, Lancom Technology has long grappled with the challenge of skills shortages and has seen initiatives and programmes addressing the challenge come and go over time. With the introduction of AWS Indigitech, the company is fired up and enthusiastic about a different approach which it believes will deliver lasting results with a holistic embrace of new talent in the formative years.
That’s according to Lancom Technology CFO and HR lead Toni Southon. “The biggest issue with talent is that you can’t hire people if they simply don’t apply for the available positions,” she says. “And the reason they don’t apply is because they just don’t know the positions are available to them, they don’t realise that they might be considered for the job. Three decades have shown the difficulty in finding the right levers to not only get young people looking at the industry at an early stage, but also sticking with it after school.”
Indigitech has recruited more than 5700 students and 270 teachers from 22 schools across Aotearoa. Indigitech addresses the digital skills and diversity gap highlighted in the Digital Skills Aotearoa: Digital Skills for our Digital Future report which shows the country needs 4,000–5,000 new technology professionals each year.
Indigitech is a collaborative effort with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Code Avengers, Education Perfect, Intel, the Spark Foundation, and Lancom Technology. The initiative provides year seven and eight students with free digital access to STEM learning in the classroom with a particular focus on students from Māori and Pacific Island communities who are less likely to follow a career in technology. Indigitech addresses the digital skills and diversity gap highlighted in the Digital Skills Aotearoa: Digital Skills for our Digital Future report which shows the country needs 4,000–5,000 new technology professionals each year. It also shows that just 4% of Māori and 2.8% of Pasifika communities are employed in digital technology roles.
Southon says historically, most programs focused on graduates and internships but the results achieved have often disappointed in comparison to the effort required to execute. And through involvement with programs in schools, she says it has become apparent that simply throwing money at the problem doesn’t reap the anticipated rewards. “A better approach shows students and – crucially – parents the way. When you start getting the parents on board with a more holistic approach, the chances of inspiring a child and then seeing them follow through with support from the home is magnified and you are more likely to succeed.”
Lancom has in the past had experience supporting tech programmes in specific schools. Previous approaches, she says, have seen children become interested, only to leave school and take a job at the local supermarket with the encouragement of parents as the family seeks income. “However, we know that tech jobs are more valuable to the individual, their family, and the economy. We shouldn’t be losing potential technology workers leaving high school to labour-intensive work; after gaining their interest, we must encourage and retain it.”
Indigitech, Southon believes, is akin to the successful efforts of elite sport in New Zealand: NZ rugby start young with Rippa Rugby™ to develop the broadest possible grassroots base to develop a talent pipeline and that ultimately delivers more professional rugby players per capita in NZ than anywhere in the world – which arguably has been a key component of the All Blacks™ success. “We need something similar for tech, starting at an early age, flowing through the school system, and creating opportunities and pathways for those who stay with it to make it to the top. If sport can do it, so can business.”
She is particularly enthused by the participation of Education Perfect and Code Avengers. “The kids love these programmes – they love the gamification, they love how quickly they can see their progress and how they can help each other. It gets them interested, excited and engaged. And as the program supports teachers too, that enthusiasm and engagement is contagious, Indigitech is creating pathways towards success in the technology industry.”
A broader talent pool benefits the individual, the industry, and the economy, but that still isn’t the full story of the benefits of the program, Southon adds. “Even if the youngsters who go through the program ultimately don’t get involved in a tech career, they still benefit from technology literacy. There are very few roles today without a tech element, so that understanding is crucial as core skills for all youngsters as they become the productive and successful members of tomorrow’s society.”
The Indigitech program has three key components, reaching schools, teachers, students:
- Participating schools gain free access to the digital Education Perfect (EP) curriculum including English, Math, Science, Te Reo and Aotearoa histories topics with free access to the Code Avengers learning platform and Code Camps.
- Participating teachers gain free access to a micro-credentials professional learning program that provides guidance on how to engage students using digital technology and how to build Education Perfect into their classroom lessons.
- Participating students gain access to Education Perfect and Code Avengers’ program within their normal school curriculum plus access to additional activities to inspire students around future careers in technology like AWS Deep Racer or the AWS Spark cloud education program.
The Indigitech program will run for the rest of the year within 33 schools, with the next intake of schools beginning In October 2023, with a target to onboard 10,000 students across 50 schools in 2024.
To reach that target, and provide these programme free to participating schools, more sponsors are needed. If you are interested in jumping on board, contact us.
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