Microsoft unveils National Skills Program to develop digital Australian workforce

By Addie Thomes

American software giant Microsoft has launched a new scheme in Australia to help train its workforce for the digital age.

The programme was unveiled in South Australia, where Microsoft has partnered with national and local government on a pilot scheme to provide digital skills to automotive supply chain workers whose roles were displaced by the closure of the Holden manufacturing plant in Elizabeth.

More widely, the initiative focuses on helping adults already in the workforce and disadvantaged groups most in danger of falling behind as the economy becomes more and more technology-driven.

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Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia, said: “Equipping the nation to succeed in the digital age – and ensuring all Australians benefit from it – must be an urgent national priority if Australia is to remain competitive and maintain its record-breaking 26 years of economic growth.

“A key direction that we’ve put forward in our report is that employers across all industries need to commit to helping workers prepare for the digital age. It is going to take a collective effort to ensure that no Australians get left behind and we need to play our part in both shaping and building Australia’s future-ready workforce.”

Microsoft has also released its ‘Building Australia’s future-ready workforce’ report, which makes several recommendations if the country is to fully exploit the opportunities presented by digital.

Among the recommendations are changes in hiring practices, auditing current skill levels and creating databases containing this information, and offering greater support for digital literacy programmes.

“It’s one thing to pay lip service to the skills gap. It’s another to take action to bridge it,” added Worrall. “This report, in conjunction with the National Skills Program, will provide the blueprint for how we can future-proof Australia and ensure that citizens are embracing digital skills and becoming more confident with technologies that’ll help them achieve progress in their working lives.”

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