05/08/2021 - 16:24

Innovation in WA: The skills, talent & funding needed to thrive

05/08/2021 - 16:24

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 While COVID-19 continues to cause devastating disruption to the global economy more than a year into the pandemic, it is also a continuing force of innovation across different industries. But the question is, will opportunistic changes made during these times create additional opportunities for future systematic growth?

As business owners fundamentally rethink ways to deliver growth, many have identified new opportunity areas being created by the changing, post-pandemic landscape. The opportunity now is to build on what we’ve learned over the past 12 months to create a workplace where everyone can thrive. At Spacecubed, we are seeing three key trends; a focus on developing skills, support to build the local talent pipeline, and ways to leverage available funding.

Build local talent pipeline

As WA continues to become one of the safest and most successful places to be during the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen less challenges in attracting new talent to the city. With highly skilled and experienced individuals looking to stay in Perth for the foreseeable future, we have a real opportunity to support people to stay here, through building local ventures, and by creating great products and services.

She Codes is one of the programs driving this. They have now supported over 5,000 women to develop coding skills, and connected them directly into job opportunities. With the backing of BHP, Robert Walters, RAC, WA State Government, VGW, Murdoch and other local companies who hire graduates, She Codes provides both upskilling and reskilling in software development. In their latest Impact Report, She Codes founder, Kate Kirwin outlines the need for increasing the talent pipeline in WA, and providing opportunities to women who are job-ready in the industry. “Currently demand for our programs is 10 times the capacity for each event. Over the past six years this has created an almost 3,000 person gap between actual program participants and potential participants.” Kate shared.

“By increasing employment opportunities we’re able to have greater impact through both economic and social sectors, and accelerate the talent within the industry. At She Codes, we are focussed on job creation (through paid mentoring roles), plus actively working with industry to create roles for, and support junior developers post-program.”

If we can attract and retain international talent and continue to grow local talent we will be well positioned to reinvent industries and build new companies that put money and skills back into the local economy.

Developing skills

Through a codesign process, Skills of the Modern Age worked with leading Western Australian thinkers to develop a report on ‘A Vision for the Modern Age’. With 63% of people surveyed outlining that their workplace needs to invest in the skills of it’s team, and 49% worrying about what their job looks like in five, or ten years, it was revealed that many workplaces are not critically thinking about the future.

Through this report and the lessons learnt, we can see that there is some anxiety around the future of work. Will robots and automation take over? Will we be lurched from job to job with uncertainty about what comes next?

While these questions remain unanswered, what we do know is that technology is ultimately not a solution altogether. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking and communication are invaluable skills going forward into the new world of working. And while there is more to do to align the skills gaps with courses, workshops and training across Australia, many of the relationships and programs are already established. Now, the focus needs to shift towards the resources needed to attract and retain talent that can transform both Western Australia and Australia.

Leverage funding and access to capital

The past decade has seen an increased focus on local programming and access to capital. Majority of the growth across WA has been market driven with program support through Corporate Sponsorship, and Local, State and Federal Government. But, there is still a huge opportunity for corporations to reinvest in ideas. We’re seeing this done through RAC BetterLabs and Woodside’s Spark!. “Supporting a thriving and diverse startup community in WA is one of the key objectives of BetterLabs, and Spacecubed’s Plus Eight program is a strategic vehicle with which we can achieve this goal.” James Edwards, Manager of Strategic Innovation at RAC shared.

Chandra Sundareswaran, General Manager at Spacecubed shared that there are increased opportunities available for the local government to leverage. “Those responsible for economic diversification, job creation, innovation, science, small business, regional and skills development have the chance to leverage the knowledge and experience of the startup community to supercharge the ecosystem for a long term and sustainable shift that will diversify the state and smooth out the boom bust cycle.”

If we can deliver on the opportunities for increased programming, the next five years are estimated to see a full flywheel effect at both a state and national level and local investors will see rewards for their 10 years of investment and belief in tech companies. These investors, employees and supporters will then go on to invest further in startups and the ecosystem as a whole, with both capital (and time) for mentoring and providing advice.

“By making this an easy process that is well connected and maximises the opportunity for reinvestment of time and money will be key to driving the flywheel faster. Then, by telling the stories of success, more people will commence the entrepreneurial startup journey.” Chandra continued.

The future is here at Spacecubed

The best thing about this point in time is that there are direct and simple ways that you, your startup, business or organisation can help deliver on the above vision through partnering with organisations like Spacecubed and investing in the local ecosystem. Find out how you can do this by reaching out to the Spacecubed team today at info@spacecubed.com

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