Former Holden car manufacturing workers in South Australia are set to become the country’s latest tech experts thanks to a new initiative launched by Microsoft Australia.
Microsoft formally launched its National Skills Program on 7 February, revealing a partnership with the South Australian Government and the City of Salisbury.
The new partnership will deliver the first pilot of the program to workers displaced by the closure the state’s Elizabeth Holden car manufacturing plant late last year.
Microsoft announced the pilot at an event attended by South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, the state’s Minister for Automotive Transformation, Kyam Maher, Mayor Gillian Aldridge, City of Salisbury and Microsoft Australia’s managing director, Steven Worrall.
Individuals participating in the pilot will have access to digital skills training and certifications. They will attend a two-day workshop to help them identify a personal business plan and career path, along with the new skills needed to find meaningful employment, Microsoft said.
Prodigy Learning, a global training partner for Microsoft, will provide the training and certifications for the pilot. It will also design a digital foundations course to meet local worker requirements.
Broadly, Microsoft’s National Skills Program focuses on helping adults already in the workforce, along with disadvantaged groups identified as those most in danger of falling behind as technology encroaches on all corners of the local economy.
“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,” Worrall said.
“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,” he said.
The initiative will ultimately include several pilot programs that Microsoft will deliver in partnership with other organisations in both the private and public sectors.
Microsoft expects the pilot programs to help understand which approaches are most effective. It then plans to collaborate with other organisations to scale up effective measures that have a broad and lasting impact.
The local launch of the software vendor’s National Skills Program complements similar programs being run by Microsoft globally, including in the United Kingdom, where the company is providing digital skills training for public sector workers.
Former Microsoft state director for South Australia, Dr Eva Balan-Vnuk, was named as the company’s National Skills Program lead in August last year.
As reported by sister publication, Computerworld, Balan-Vnuk was subsequently appointed in January as executive director of ICT and digital government within the South Australian government’s Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC).
Balan-Vnuk’s appointment followed the departure of the DPC’s former chief information officer, Veronica Theriault, who subsequently faced court over alleged dishonesty offences.
Microsoft’s efforts to retrain South Australia’s former Holden workers come almost a year after the State Government said that its leviathan $394 million outsourcing deal with DXC Technology was expected to provide reskilling and employment opportunities for up to 30 former General Motors-Holden workers.
The State Government’s contract document for deal, however, made no mention of the arrangement.