After just one year, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s IT cadetship program is proving effective in combating an IT skills shortage and realising the benefits of engaging with local talent.
Like metropolitan cities, regional Australia is facing a significant IT skill shortage. A report from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) in June found that over the last 10 years, university undergraduates enrolling in IT degrees has declined by 50 per cent. In regional areas, the effect is even more pronounced, as young professionals migrate to city areas looking for work. Andrew Watts, Executive, Change at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank says the cadet program is a bid to keep skills in the local area.
“Programs such as this are key to sustaining a successful community and are well aligned with our vision of becoming Australia’s most customer-connected bank,” Watts says. With five successful cadets coming from the inaugural 2012 program, the bank is now looking to recruit up to five more people for the 2013 intake.
Watts says the goal of the cadet program is to build a long-term loyalty in the bank that will serve as a longer term competitive advantage, and not simply to fill short-term skills shortages.
“Technology is moving so quickly that you want to attract people in the industry who have a passion for technology and who can look at it from a customer point of view,” Watts says. “We have people coming through with the right qualifications, but they’re also building a great insight into our business and our customers, which I think could be a significant strategic advantage moving forward.”
The project is being undertaken in partnership with La Trobe University, which has a campus in Bendigo.
Watts says the initiative has also had an immediate and positive impact on student’s engagement with IT, beyond the scope of the cadetship program itself. “Since launching last year the level of enrolments into the IT courses at La Trobe have increased with the implementation of the cadetship program. The quality of applications into the course has also increased so the early signs are very promising,” Watts says. “A lot of people think ‘if you’re in IT you’re sitting at a computer not talking to people in a dark room,’ and clearly that’s not what it’s all about. We’re trying to attract people at a young age and get them interested in IT.”