More than 3,000 former Defence personnel will transition into cybersecurity and other tech roles under a new partnership between IBM and Soldier On.

Backed by the Federal Government, ‘SkillsBuild’ will serve as a free and open digital learning platform to help these workers upskill and move into high demand sectors.

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

"And one of the most interesting challenges … [is] 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 be delivered as part of part of Soldier On’s Pathways Program – an initiative to help veterans and their families transition out of the military into long-term employment.

It follows the Federal Government’s recently unveiled 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, which will see $1.6 billion invested into cyber over the next ten years.

IBM Managing Director Australia and New Zealand Katrina Troughton said the program will tap into the relevant tech skills many of these Defence personnel already have.

“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,” she said.

SkillsBuild will see over 3,000 veterans and their families given access to online subjects across web development, data management, customer support, cloud administration and cybersecurity.

They will also be able to receive mentorship from IBM’s various experts in these subjects.

The creation of new tech roles will help address Australia’s current skills gap in the area.

The 2019 ACS Digital Pulse reported a shortfall of over 100,000 skilled IT workers by 2024, taking the technology workforce to 800,000 people.

Specific to cybersecurity, an AustCyber Sector Competitiveness Plan has noted Australia will need 18,000 new cyber workers by 2026.

IBM also recently launched SkillsBuild in Canada, where it hopes it can train 35,000 potential tech workers who have been impacted by the pandemic.

Making the transition

The SkillsBuild initiative is not the first program to help Defence workers move into tech – particularly cybersecurity – roles.

Australian organisation WithYouWithMe provides testing, training and deployment for recently retired military veterans seeking a career in tech.

The platform has 30,000 users (including non-military) and has already helped more than 1,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) veterans find cybersecurity roles, as of last year.

As well as placing these veterans in tech roles, WithYouWithMe has also had success in keeping them in these jobs, boasting a six-month retention rate of over 90 per cent.

It was last month named by Austrade as one of 50 Australian cybersecurity companies well-placed to meet the needs of the country’s cyber defence projects.

The start-up also recently secured $5 million from domestic investors to fund its expansion in the United States.