Talent International has announced the expansion of the 2014 Talent Unleashed Awards in an aim to increase the recognition of individuals who are making an impact in the technology sector.
Adding to last year's Community Impact Award, the technology and innovation awards program has added four new categories: Rising Star, Leadership, Best Start Up, and Digital Content.
Talent Unleashed CEO Richard Earl said the award is a call to action that will help unlock and identify talented technology professionals. It will be targeted to over 2 million technology professionals across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK.
"We feel there is insufficient activity at the grassroots level within the technology sector, and that's the thing that fuels startups and helps build a technology sector. So it's a concern we not only have about Australia, but about the broader APAC region," he said.
According to Earl, the current technology landscape in Australia lacks a strong technology centre.
"It's more of a problem now because there's now a softening in the mining and resource sector, and areas such as the manufacturing sector are closing down. So in Australia, we need to look at what the future is about," he said.
"We have some really great universities here, some great infrastructure facilities, yet all research suggest enrolments to technology-related courses are dropping off and completion rates are declining. Yet, we also know that we need another 20,000-30,000 technologist professionals in the next few years. So it's a looming problem."
This year's awards will also see the involvement of Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who will form part of the judging panel. They will be joined by LinkedIn managing director Cliff Rosenberg, as well as Catcha Group co-founder and CEO Patrick Grove, and head of Groupon Asia-Pacific and founder of Youth in Asia Joel Neoh.
"The technology and IT sectors will be the mainstay of our global economy for many years to come. We must encourage more talented individuals to take up careers in these fields and help drive innovation, invention and more efficiency across many sectors. I enjoyed meeting the team at Talent International last year in Sydney and look forward to working with them in this competition," Branson said.
Winners of each of the five categories, together with the winner of people's choice award, will be announced in late July. They will be treated to a five-day business innovation workshop at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa.