Victorians wanting to break into IT have a new opportunity after a $200,000 state government investment designed to bring workers into the IT industry from other careers.

The Microsoft Traineeship Program (MTP) partners the tech giant with training partners that help trainees earn a TAFE Certificate IV in Information Technology, as well as Microsoft cloud and other certifications.

Trainees don’t have to have an IT background and can be at any stage in their career – and this, Victorian Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Martin Pakula, said makes it ideal for school leavers, recent graduates, women returning to work, indigenous people, people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people living with a disability.

“Through this program, we are investing in the next generation of IT professionals, ensuring they have the skills and real-world experience to forge ahead in their careers,” Pakula said.

Real-world experience

With reports suggesting it is getting harder to find employees with the right skills, government and industry have been exploring a range of options to fill an IT skills gap that is estimated to grow to 100,000 workers by 2024.

As efforts increasingly look for talent outside of the IT industry to fill what federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently described as “very important” jobs, many programs are reinforcing the importance of soft skills as a complement or even a replacement for the technical skills that employers want but can’t find.

MTP participants will join the program within weeks – with another cohort due in February – and will work with industry partners that, in Victoria, will include Coles, CompNow, MEGT Australia, Modex, Blue Connections, Thomas Duryea Logicalis, Advance Computing, and Datacom.

Already available in NSW, South Australia and the ACT, the program has graduated 14 Sydney and two Adelaide participants, Microsoft said in announcing Victoria as the fourth state to join.

The trainees’ legal employer will be MEGT, which will place students with host employers and support them throughout the 12 to 24 month program.

Working with government and local partners is helping Microsoft “create a new pipeline of exceptional IT talent and create exciting career opportunities for aspiring trainees,” Microsoft Australia managing director Steven Worrall said.

The program builds on ongoing efforts by Victoria’s Labor government to extend the state’s TAFE system, which has received over $1.3b in funding since 2015.

More than 19,000 students have taken up the government on its offer to deliver key certifications for free – including courses in accounting, allied health, early childhood education, tourism and the Certificate IV in Cyber Security – as part of an effort to bolster in-state skills.

And in July, the state announced a $940,000 investment to build a cybersecurity laboratory at the regional FedUni TAFE.

“Partnerships like this one between employers and training providers are critical to ensuring our students get relevant training and on-the-job experience,” Minister for Training, Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney said at the launch.