Digital Careers and SAP expand Young ICT Explorers competition to promote student innovation

SydneyDigital Careers has intensified its collaboration with SAP to support the annual Young ICT Explorers competition. Through a commitment of $1.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions over four years, Digital Careers and SAP will extend the YICTE competition into new states and age groups. The engagement is a result of the aligned vision between Digital Careers and SAP to address the ICT skills mismatch in Australia by encouraging innovation and a passion for technology in schools and among Australia’s youth.

YICTE is designed to encourage Australian youth to create and innovate with ICT, while promoting greater understanding of the real-life applications of technology and the career paths it enables. Now in its fifth year, YICTE has inspired over 950 students to innovate in ICT-related projects.

Responding directly to the demand for education programs of this type, in 2014 the competition has been extended out of New South Wales and Queensland and opened up to schools in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and an additional event in Queensland, in Townsville.

Greg Miller, vice president and general manager of SAP Global Partner Operations for Australia and New Zealand, said, “In the four years this competition has run, we have seen increasingly innovative project submissions from students. It’s vital to encourage this innovation from an early age so that, in the future, the industry is not faced with the skills mismatches like we’re seeing today.

“Businesses are struggling to find the right people for the job as there is a lack of applicants with the right science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. Yet at the same time, there has been recent discourse addressing the critical level of youth unemployment in our country. Digital Careers has been doing great work to help resolve this issue and we’re grateful for their integral support of YICTE,” Miller added.

Digital Careers will help drive outreach activities for the competition, including communications to students, parents and teachers to raise awareness of the opportunity, as well as provide instrumental operational and logistical support.

“The YICTE competition is a standout example of the cooperative efforts between the industry and educators to nurture student interest in the field of ICT, while creating a touch point between students and industry professionals at an early stage in the students’ learning,” said Karsten Schulz, National Program Director, Digital Careers at NICTA. “We’re throwing our full support behind expanding the opportunity to schools across Australia and encourage teachers and parents to jump on board with registering students in this fun and rewarding experience. Young ICT Explorers plays a critical part in our national strategy.”

The program has already seen successes for students such as Lucky Katahanas. As an ‘SAP Young ICT Explorer of the Year’ in 2011, Lucky went on to complete a full-year internship at SAP in Brisbane and is now pursuing a bachelor degree in Information Technology at the Queensland University of Technology.

The SAP Young ICT Explorers Competition runs in partnership with leading universities, including University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Swinburne University, James Cook University, and Australian National University. The projects will be judged by industry professionals, government officials and academics. Each project is assessed on criteria of creativity, uniqueness, quality, level of difficulty and project documentation.

About Digital Careers
Digital Careers (www.digitalcareers.edu.au) is funded by the Australian Government as represented by the Department of Communications. Digital Careers is led by NICTA and is a four-year program aimed at increasing the number of tertiary ICT students – and indirectly, the number of ICT professionals – in Australia, by promotion ICT study and careers.

Digital Careers grew out of a program called Group X that was established in 2007 by The University of Queensland, The Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, and the Queensland Government. The Group X founders were Paul Bailes, Michael Blumenstein, Peter Grant, Simon Kaplan, Gavin Keeley, John Puttick, and Paul Russell. In June 2013, the Commonwealth Government injected a $6M funding boost for the program – with matching contributions to come from industry, universities and state governments- to commence an Australia-wide roll-out.

About SAP
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organisations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 238,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

About Young ICT Explorers
Young ICT Explorers is a schools-based competition run by SAP in Queensland and New South Wales for the past four years, and expanding to Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory for the first time this year. School students are asked to enter ICT related projects in any field of study or topic of interest. The competition helps nurture, grow and encourage young minds to take up the challenge of Information Communication technology.

The competition was piloted in 2010 in partnership with the University of Queensland to challenge the widespread perception by students and their parents that ICT careers are dull and limiting. This followed concerns from past survey of the state of ICT education by the University of Wollongong which revealed that application for tertiary studies in ICT have declined around 55% Australia wide over the past 10 years. For more information, visit the Young ICT Explorers website.

For more information, press only:
Danielle Zhu, +61 422 644 248, Danielle@howorth.com.au
Perry Manross, +61 478 303 232, perry.manross@sap.com
Dorothy Kennedy, +61 488 229 687, Dorothy.Kennedy@nicta.com.au