By Ryan Hathrill
This month, soccer’s A-League became the latest sports code to introduce a video system to review key match decisions by officials. Armed with quick-fire technology, a video assistant referee is now able to overturn goals and right the wrongs of human refereeing mistakes.
This innovation is only possible thanks to a significant financial investment in technology and ICT professionals. In fact, the people employed behind the scenes to develop the video referee system easily outnumber the handful of match officials we see on the actual pitch.
There’s a lesson here for all of us in Western Australia. While technology is becoming more efficient at doing many traditional jobs, the demand for ICT professionals to develop and operate that technology remains extremely high.
The trouble is, we don’t currently have enough people with the skills to meet that demand. And at the same time, there are fewer and fewer jobs in the mining and resources sector. Consequently, unemployment (and underemployment) remains high.
Make no mistake, West Australians have the potential to transition into technology roles. We have the raw talent and work ethic to rival any state in the country. What’s needed is a concerted push to upskill our workforce, powered by government, educators and employers.
The government’s multi-million-dollar technology fund, promised in the recent election, is a good statement of intent. What needs to follow is a plan to help local workers to transition towards technology roles. Training and qualifications require time and money, so government will need to incentivise and support people to study. This will require a significant investment in West Australians of all ages – not just the young.
Education institutions can play their part by offering flexible ways for learning and reskilling in technology. They must also talk to business to understand what skills are in demand, so that they can tailor their curriculum in line with that. And educators should remove the barriers and red tape that prevent workers from signing up to technology courses. For example, offering exemptions from certain units or modules if someone can demonstrate relevant industry experience.
Again, the lessons from soccer are plain to see. If we play as a team – government, educators and employers – then the WA economy can start winning again.
Employers and businesses must also step up too. Our culture needs to change from downsizing workforces to retraining workforces. Internships and apprenticeships (for workers of all ages) need to be available, so that people can learn on the job. For example, at Robert Walters, we recently sponsored an initiative to encourage women to work in technology. An ‘introduction to coding’ course was attended by 130 women, and we arranged an internship mechanism for a dozen of our clients.
Ryan Hathrill is Robert Walters’ Director - Western Australia
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