Scott Morrison backs IBM and Soldier On to upskill Aussie veterans in tech

SkillsBuild hopes to help former defence personnel and veterans secure their future post-service career faster.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has jumped on board for an initiative led by IBM to help former defence personnel and veterans gain tech skills.

IBM, alongside Soldier On, has announced SkillsBuild, touted by Big Blue as a free and open digital learning platform that will help more than 3,000 individuals upskill, allowing them to transition into jobs in high demand sectors.

"Every generation that has passed through that period of service has presented new challenges for them," Morrison said, announcing the initiative on Friday.

"And one of the most interesting challenges, which is a positive one … is as part of the Veterans Employment Programme, the program that I believe we're [seeing] to be really connecting veterans to workplaces, to jobs, and that requires the skills and the skills investment that has been made here by IBM to ensure that we can equip today's veterans to be successful in a digital economy."

SkillsBuild will give over 3,000 veterans and their families access to online learning programs to gain digital and professional skills.

The subjects covered include web development, data management, customer support, cloud administration, and cybersecurity.

See also: The disappointment of Australia's new cybersecurity strategy  

"There is an urgent need to redeploy and reskill the workforce within Australia -- particularly with technical and professional skills -- and SkillsBuild goes a long way to addressing this need," IBM Australia and New Zealand managing director Katrina Troughton said. 

"Investment in future skills is vital to ensure the country's ongoing digital literacy. As a mid-career re-skilling initiative, our partnership with Soldier On will help many Australians build new skills and redeploy existing ones, pivoting to a new career path that will help address the huge skills gap we have in cybersecurity in particular, but also in digital skills more generally."

IBM said participants will be able to book time with its in-house talent for personalised coaching on course content, career planning, professional skills, and labour market insights.

Participants will also have opportunities to gain experience working with industry professionals on real-life projects, which IBM said would increase their job readiness and employability.

The announcement follows Morrison handing down Australia's new cybersecurity strategy earlier this month after he declared in June the country was under cyber attack from a state-based actor, widely tipped to be China.

Updated at 12:15pm AEST, 14 August 2020: added comments by Prime Minister Scott Morrison


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