Melbourne-based social enterprise Code Like a Girl has launched an internship program designed to help prospective workers get their foot in the door of Australian tech companies, in the hopes of addressing what it sees as an impending nationwide IT skills gap.
Code Like a Girl interns will be placed in either full-time or part-time paid internship positions at partnering tech organisations, including accounting software giant Xero, software company Cogent, and digital agencies August and Deepend, in an effort to immerse more future workers in Australia’s tech ecosystem.
Code Like a Girl aims to address the gender imbalance in the tech sector by equipping women with the knowledge and support to pursue a career in tech. While the organisation has an overarching female-focused ethos, these internship placements will be available to males, females and anyone who is considering getting involved in the tech ecosystem through hands-on work experience.
“This initiative was really created to assist with a pipeline issue that currently exists in technical roles,” Code Like a Girl co-founder Vanessa Doake tells StartupSmart.
“We had identified two ways to enter the [tech] industry: either studying a computer science degree at university, or through an immersive bootcamp. This was limiting if you don’t have the financial resources to pay for these courses,” she says.
High-school leavers, university students and even those looking for a career change are welcome to participate in the program, which is designed to upskill the workforce of the future by placing participants in paid work experience internships of three-, six- or 12- months duration.
Code Like a Girl will initially assess hopeful applicants for placement based on their desire to learn certain topics and the existing skills they have, while the final decision to accept an intern lies with the participating companies. Code Like a Girl says most partnering organisations will take one intern per year, with the aim of transitioning these interns to a permanent role after completion of their work experience.
Doake says the initiative is designed to encourage greater representation of diverse workers in the tech ecosystem, including those living in regional areas or from marginalised socioeconomic backgrounds.
“We wanted to have an accessible way to enable people to get a foot in the door to learn about what a tech role looks like,” Doake explains.
The first intake of interns will be welcomed in Melbourne in January 2018, and Doake plans on expanding its pool of partner companies to offer the program Australia-wide in future.
“We want to be able to reach people who work in rural areas, or people in low socioeconomic brackets who haven’t had an opportunity to enter the industry,” she says.
“Hopefully this will enable people from very diverse walks of life to become involved. This could be people returning from work after spending time at home, midway through their career and seeking a change, or students looking for practical experience straight out of high school.”
The changing future of work
Doake hopes the initiative will encourage other organisations to think about the role they can play in equipping workers with the skills needed to address the future of work.
Pointing to estimates that Australia’s tech sector will require approximately 700,000 extra IT workers by 2020, Doake says that while some organisations are equipping staff to fill these future roles, many others don’t have the capacity or resources to do so.
“Through us doing the legwork and setting up this program we hope this will play a part in having enough talent to fill these future roles,” she says.
“We can’t just sit back and rely on tertiary institutions to contribute the diversity of people needed to fill these IT roles: we need to help contribute to the solution to ensure we have the people we need to move forward in the future.”
Applications are now open for the program, which will be kicking off in Melbourne in January 2018. Applicants must have a legal right to work in Australia, and Doake says the rate of remuneration will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the company offering the work placement.