Startup Instaclustr partners with Uni of Canberra to fill tech skills gap, ahead of job-focused federal budget

Instaclustr co-founder Doug Stuart. Source: supplied.

Aussie startup Instaclustr has partnered up with the University of Canberra to offer professional certifications in open-source technologies, ahead of a federal budget widely expected to focus on jobs and digital skills.

The partnership is intended to boost tech talent among Aussies, particularly in software development, and create a workforce equipped to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A software-as-a-service business offering open-sourced data management tech, Instaclustr has had a connection with the University of Canberra almost since its inception, having received support from the Canberra Innovation Hub.

The partnership sets out to address an issue Instaclustr is intimately familiar with. When building the business, the team struggled to find local talent that had the right skill set and certifications, co-founder Doug Stuart tells SmartCompany.

“It’s about trying to build a workforce here for us in Australia,” he says.

“We need great people skilled up on open source.”

Previously, the startup has run formal workshops with groups from large businesses. Now, using the UC Pro platform, it’s opting to offer the skills to individuals, too.

The first course will offer training in open-source software development platform Apache Kafka — a tool Stuart says is particularly buzzy at the moment.

There’s huge demand for people skilled in this particular tech, he says, and not many experts to fill it.

The partnership announcement comes ahead of the release of the federal budget 2021 tomorrow evening, which will focus on bringing down the unemployment rate.

This weekend, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced an extension to the JobTrainer scheme, as well as the wage subsidy scheme for apprenticeships.

We’re also hearing a lot of rhetoric around the need for upskilling, particularly when it comes to tech and digital skills.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues around the world, it’s more difficult for skilled employees to relocate to Australia, Stuart notes. So creating local talent, rather than relying on immigration is more important than ever.

“Any support the government is giving in this space, and the recognition around us having to build our own and develop those skills and capabilities is so important.”

The announcement also follows a call from Australian universities — that are still suffering due to the lack of international students — to offer an extension of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) scheme, for students looking to retrain through ‘micro-credentials’.

That was one of 12 suggestions put forward by Universities Australia last week, ahead of the federal budget tomorrow evening, designed to strengthen the role of universities in boosting the economy.

“In a time of economic disruption, innovation and a productive skilled workforce become even more crucial to maintaining Australia’s competitiveness and prosperity,” Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said in a statement.

The suggestions also included visa flexibility for international students, more support for commercialising research, and making industry-based learning exempt from work-hour restrictions for international students.

This weekend, the government announced that a cap on working hours would not apply to student visa holders working in hospitality and tourism.


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