The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry may well be a happy hunting ground for graduates looking to embark on a career in IT, but it won’t be easy to snare that favoured job, with one major industry player predicting the battle for talent will be ‘fierce’.
What’s more, that company – enterprise software vendor ‘SAP’ – places a high value on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the necessity to create a workplace that attracts and retains the best talent in order to maintain a competitive edge.
And, here’s something for thought – “consider your own personal attitude towards social responsibility” – if you are contemplating a career in ICT, or for that matter, in any other business and industry sector.
According to SAP, past studies have found that around 50% of workers believe they would be more likely to stay with an employer who encourages its workforce to give back to the community and one in 10 employees say they would leave a less charitable company and take a ‘significant pay cut’ to move somewhere which allowed them time off during work hours to engage in volunteer work.
On the so-called ‘battle’ for talent, SAP says the demand for skilled workers is growing rapidly, yet the supply of talent in Australia is struggling to keep pace. A recently published blog on the SAP website says this is particularly true for the ever-evolving ICT industry, and that former ‘buzz word’ trends such as social media, cloud computing, mobility and big data are now a reality and are changing the way the company does business.
SAP says that a recent ICT workforce study, found that local ICT demand is expected to increase 7.1% by 2017, requiring an additional 33,200 workers. Consequently, there is a distinct need for businesses to look at how they can collectively help address this shortfall to build a future for Australia.
In a message for other employers, SAP says: “This is where a solid corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy can elevate your brand profile, positioning you as a preferred employer as well as help build a better future for Australia.”
SAP goes on to say that the company “certainly recognises the importance of CSR not only for the community it operates in but also for its employees”, and gives an insight into how its employees played a part in selecting two charities it now supports in the pursuit of improved student education.
“We recently announced long term partnerships with The Smith Family and the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF). However, CSR at SAP is not just about donations and volunteering. It involves a far broader human resource (HR) and employee engagement strategy.
“The aim of our program is to create a fulfilling workplace for existing employees, helping attract future employees while working with like-minded organisations to create a positive impact on ICT skills development within Australia.
“In a rigorous selection process, SAP Australia’s employees nominated, qualified and ultimately selected the two organisations from more than 40 local worthy causes. These partnerships came about, not only because of our employees’ appreciation for the work both these organisations do for children in our community. They were selected because we believe our resources can help improve students’ education and increase access to innovative education programs – perhaps even offering them the chance of a successful ICT career.
“Our ongoing support fuels the AIEF Scholarship Program and Pathways Program, which aim to help students transition from school through to employment. SAP employees are also encouraged to take part in the mentoring program, providing guidance to students on how to achieve a productive and fulfilling career in our industry. These mentorship roles are also extended to internal training programs such as the SAP Academy where graduates are able to gain invaluable experiences by working directly with SAP employees to better prepare themselves for a future in ICT.
“We actively encourage a culture of ‘giving back’ within our business. We proactively look for opportunities to engage our employees in both time-based and skills-based volunteering to ensure we are supporting our future generations and tapping into the talent pipeline in Australia.
“As a result, we have seen overwhelming commitment among our employees in giving their time to support our charity partners and their related causes. This year alone, we have had more than 240 employees contribute over 1,000 volunteering hours in support of charities.”
And, on education in Australia and comparisons with standards in other countries, SAP points to the latest report by the OECD measuring the mathematics, reading and science abilities of youth around the world which found that Australian children are lagging behind our APAC neighbours like China, Singapore, Korea and Japan.
“In fact, Aussie students are recording a difference in maths performance by about half a year of schooling compared to 10 years ago and maybe surprisingly, girls in particular are showing a drop on average,” SAP observes. “A solid foundation in science and mathematics is crucial for building a future career in ICT and these results should be raising alarms for organisations.”
SAP goes on to say:
“Given the right level of engagement and stimulation, it is incredible how innovative our students can be. This is why we designed our annual SAP Young ICT Explorers competition to align with the ICT component of the National Curriculum and encourage students to create and innovate with ICT. The outcomes of competitions and challenges such as this are important to help spark interest among our students towards the practical applications of what they learn at school.
“While addressing the skills gap should start with these young students, it doesn’t stop there. It is also important that we continue to train and support the current workforce. At SAP, we have a number of solutions and programs to help our and our customers’ employees continue to learn and stay up to date with the latest skills required in the industry.
“It is our responsibility to address the talent issue of this country as part of our business objectives.
“Mapping out the touch points throughout the learning lifecycle of a future employee is incredibly important. Knowledge is power, and we should, as an industry, do all we can to engage, encourage and nurture skills from the outset through employee initiatives and CSR programs.
“The task of implementing a robust and aligned CSR program can be a challenge for organisations and their HR professionals. However, approaching CSR programs from a strategic perspective will enable your organisation to take control of nurturing its talent and set you up for long-term success while creating social impact on the wider community.”
To check out SAP courses, take a look here