ACS Foundation Awards $900,000 ICT Work Integrated Learning Scholarships in Western Australia
WA businesses and universities collaborate with ACSF to train work-ready graduates
Perth, 4 November 2011: The ACS Foundation (ACSF), whose charter is to encourage private and public sponsorship of ICT higher education and research initiatives, will tonight hold a ceremony at Parliament House in Perth to celebrate the awarding of 47 ACS Foundation ‘Work Integrated Learning’ (WIL) scholarships, worth in excess of $900,000, in Western Australia over the past 12 months.
Hosted by The Hon. John Day, Minister for Science and Innovation and Patron of the ACS Foundation in Western Australia, the function is to recognise the talented individuals who completed their ACS Foundation scholarships this year and to acknowledge the successful collaboration between the ACSF, academia and the private sector to ensure students are identified and nurtured to further strengthen Australia’s ICT industry.
The ACSF WIL scholarships are for project-based, real-life experiences to complement students’ academic studies. Throughout 2011, opportunities were offered to ICT sector trainees in WA – scholarships were granted to 18 year olds in their first year of university study, undergraduate and post-graduate students, as well as mature age students undertaking career-change training at Institutes of Technology.
As the result of a six month ACSF WIL scholarship at IBM in Perth, one of the University of WA undergraduate students was recently awarded a 12 week Microsoft Internship in Redmond, Washington. Of the 45 WA scholarship holders 13 were women, which at 29 percent is more than double the industry participation rate of 13 percent.
John Debrincat, Chair of the ACS Foundation, said: “I congratulate this year’s 45 ACS Foundation WA WIL scholarship holders on their achievements. They are now able to play their part in ensuring the expansion of a dynamic, innovative ICT sector in this country.”
ICT is the enabler for economic performance across the entire range of industries and is a vitally important contributor to the strength of Western Australia. As an example, ICT underpins the resources and mining sector with the latest mine planning and exploration techniques able to be exploited for greater productivity.
John Ridge AM, Executive Director of the ACS Foundation, said: “The WIL scholarships are providing more work-ready graduates to better meet the needs of industry. They also do much to smooth the way for students transitioning from study to the workforce.”
The success of the scholarship scheme relies on the generosity of organisations that donate ACS Foundation scholarships and the businesses and institutions that have ensured the success of these ICT sector opportunities.
John Debrincat said: “The range of multi-national organisations and smaller WA companies involved in the WIL program shows how applicable and valuable it is to enterprises across the spectrum.”
CSG Solutions has provided 20 WIL placements in Western Australia over four years and is currently recruiting a further two. Mark Bogos, Manager – Mid-Market ERP Solutions at CSG, explained the value of the WIL program from the donor perspective: “In a buoyant WA market, finding good employees is a challenge. The scholarship program provides CSG with access to some of the top students in the right technology areas. We then work with each individual to have them productive very quickly. Through this process we have been able to convert a number of scholarship students into full time employees who have gone on to be very capable consultants within our organisation.”
Donors being acknowledged at tonight’s function for their participation are Bankwest, Command IT Services, Conducive, CSG Solutions, Datamerge, Future Logic, IBM, Intierra, iVEC, Jason Windows, OnCall DBA, pieNETWORKS, The RAC Group, Realtime Computing, Velrada, Western Power and ZettaServe.
The ACS Foundation in Western Australia is a particularly active chapter that has raised $2.6 million dollars since 2002. It is supported by the State Government of Western Australia as well as academic partners: the University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan, Curtin and Murdoch Universities.
Associate Professor Tele Tan from Curtin University said: “The ACS Foundation Work Integrated Learning program provides a unique opportunity for our students to experience what it is like in the real world of software development. The blending of the theoretical foundation which the students initially learned at Curtin and the exposure to the software industry best practices which they acquired in the program is unparalleled. We can see a huge positive difference in the attitude and IT skills of students returning from the WIL program which in turn benefited their downstream studies at Curtin as well as their undergraduate cohort.”
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This year alone, the ACS Foundation has raised more than $7 million nationally to provide 350 scholarships. This includes the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) scholarships for project based, real-life experiences to complement students’ academic studies. The relevant, real-life placements introduce WIL students to professional ethics and behaviour, communication and team work.
Available scholarships and details of the projects are being continually updated on the ACS Foundation website.
The ACSF’s NSW chapter is running an introduction to the scholarship program in Sydney on 22 November for prospective partners and students.