Digital Careers has intensified its collaboration with SAP to support the annual Young ICT Explorers competition. Through a commitment of $1.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions over four years, Digital Careers and SAP will extend the YICTE competition into new states and age groups. The engagement is a result of the aligned vision between Digital Careers and SAP to address the ICT skills mismatch in Australia by encouraging innovation and a passion for technology in schools and among Australia‘s youth.
YICTE is designed to encourage Australian youth to create and innovate with ICT, while promoting greater understanding of the real-life applications of technology and the career paths it enables. Now in its fifth year, YICTE has inspired over 950 students to innovate in ICT-related projects.
Responding directly to the demand for education programs of this type, in 2014 the competition has been extended out of New South Wales and Queensland and opened up to schools in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and an additional event in Queensland, in Townsville. Greg Miller, vice president and general manager of SAP Global Partner Operations for Australia and New Zealand, said, "In the four years this competition has run, we have seen increasingly innovative project submissions from students. It‘s vital to encourage this innovation from an early age so that, in the future, the industry is not faced with the skills mismatches like we‘re seeing today.
"Businesses are struggling to find the right people for the job as there is a lack of applicants with the right science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. Yet at the same time, there has been recent discourse addressing the critical level of youth unemployment in our country. Digital Careers has been doing great work to help resolve this issue and we‘re grateful for their integral support of YICTE," Miller added.
Digital Careers will help drive outreach activities for the competition, including communications to students, parents and teachers to raise awareness of the opportunity, as well as provide instrumental operational and logistical support.
"The YICTE competition is a standout example of the cooperative efforts between the industry and educators to nurture student interest in the field of ICT, while creating a touch point between students and industry professionals at an early stage in the students‘ learning," said Karsten Schulz, National Program Director, Digital Careers at NICTA. "We‘re throwing our full support behind expanding the opportunity to schools across Australia and encourage teachers and parents to jump on board with registering students in this fun and rewarding experience. Young ICT Explorers plays a critical part in our national strategy."
The program has already seen successes for students such as Lucky Katahanas. As a 'SAP Young ICT Explorer of the Year‘ in 2011, Lucky went on to complete a full-year internship at SAP in Brisbane and is now pursuing a bachelor degree in Information Technology at the Queensland University of Technology.
The SAP Young ICT Explorers Competition runs in partnership with leading universities, including University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Swinburne University, James Cook University, and Australian National University. The projects will be judged by industry professionals, government officials and academics. Each project is assessed on criteria of creativity, uniqueness, quality, level of difficulty and project documentation.