In October 2017 the Digital Skills S.I.G. members of AIIA discussed the landscape of current and future ICT skill shortages and the work readiness of new entry-level recruits. ICT skills and the demand for workers in this sector is highlighted as critical to Australian economic growth in the 2017 ACS Deloitte Access Economics Digital Pulse report.

Members of the AIIA have reported that there can be up to 18 months of input and development required to get a new recruit to a fully functional standard in a job role. PwC, the Skills Service Organisation in Australia for ICT VET development, reports that employers have identified that they are looking for graduates with a vendor specific qualification and ICT graduates are less satisfied with their training compared to other VET graduates. The majority of current ICT VET and tertiary qualifications do not have a direct connection with employment. These comments also reflect employers concerns regarding higher education ICT graduate outcomes.

A number of higher apprenticeship pilot programs and models across different industry sectors have been established. Preliminary research into these programs has identified that they are not meeting the full requirements of industry’s needs in addressing current and future ICT skill shortages.

Accordingly, the AIIA Digital Skills S.I.G. proposed to develop and implement a pilot offering of a Higher Apprenticeship program that provides an employment based pathway for the ICT industry. Subsequently, AIIA through its NSW Council sought and realized a partnership with the NSW Government in establishing a Higher Apprenticeship pilot program. As a result, AIIA gained approval through the Department of Industry to develop and deliver a business case for an x-ship employment based learning pathway model.