Seeking to increase its presence in Tasmania and advance its customer support capabilities for customers in Australia and New Zealand, DXC Technology planned to expand a 12-person operation in Hobart into a large Customer Support Center of Excellence (CoE).
DXC knew it would need to recruit outside of the local labor market to meet its requirement for skilled IT workers. One of the options available to DXC was to build relationships with local educational institutions to explore the possibility of developing a collaborative student placement program. Such a program would help to upskill students in technology and prepare them for real-world working conditions.
Working in partnership with the Tasmanian Government, DXC approached TasTAFE, the state’s largest public provider of vocational education and training. It provides technical and further education (TAFE) across the country.
“DXC offered TasTAFE an opportunity to provide our students with a program that is unique in the ICT [information and communications technology] workforce. We saw that as a huge advantage for our students.”
Kerryn Meredith-Sotiris IT Education Manager, TasTAFE
Developing an ITO labor pipeline
DXC’s early discussions with TasTAFE focused on how the organizations could work together to create a student placement program that would help establish a high-caliber labor pipeline for DXC’s service desk operations.
These discussions led to the decision to jointly develop a TasTAFE training course — the Certificate IV in IT Support — designed specifically to suit an IT outsourcing environment. In addition to providing traditional IT technical skills, the newly designed course would have a strong focus on customer service and include a 4-month-long placement for students at the DXC Customer Support CoE in Hobart.
“We were really excited when DXC announced that it would be expanding in Hobart,” says Kerryn Meredith-Sotiris, TasTAFE’s IT education manager. “DXC offered TasTAFE an opportunity to provide our students with a program that is unique in the ICT [information and communications technology] workforce. We saw that as a huge advantage for our students.”
The new program with TasTAFE provides students with direct work experience so they are work-ready upon completing the program.
“Students get first-hand, real-world experience working in an IT outsourcing service desk for a large global company,” says John Schumacher, head of service desk services for DXC Australia, who oversees the CoEs in Hobart, Sydney and Perth. “They then take that confidence back into their learning, and at the end of the program they are equipped to go on and win roles in the marketplace, or be placed within one of the DXC teams should a vacancy arise.”
“TasTAFE has worked closely with DXC to design and build a truly innovative Service Desk Certificate IV course,” says TasTAFE’s Meredith-Sotiris. “Together we have established a framework to provide skills, experience and workplace knowledge to students undertaking this course. The course will equip graduates with the right skills to pursue their chosen career in the IT industry.”
As part of the program, DXC sought permission from some of its major customers to allow the students to work with them, thus giving the students a real-life learning experience. Students participate in two weeks of preparation training at TasTAFE, followed by a two-week intensive workshop at DXC, before going on to support customers. The response to the program from DXC’s customers has been outstanding.
“Customers have been fully engaged in helping us induct the students,” Schumacher says. “They’re very invested in making the program a success because they feel as though they’re part of it, and they’ve actually felt good about contributing to helping students gain experience.”
New customers are also drawn to the program, Schumacher says. “The feedback is that they’re really looking forward to being part of it.”
All graduates of the program are trained to a standard that a global IT company would recruit for, with translatable skills that can be used anywhere in the world.
“One of the real benefits of the TasTAFE program is that it’s gearing students up to be job-ready,” says Alicia Whelan, DXC Australia human resources manager. “They’ve received hands-on experience, real professional experience and relevant IT training that means they’re ready.” Graduate Sam McInerney says the program gives students an opportunity to see what it is like to work in an IT business. “I think this program is great for all IT students, especially students who are maybe unsure if this is the right career path for them,” he says. “It gives them a bit of insight into the IT environment and lets them make a better-informed decision.” A bonus for McInerney: He landed a job as a service desk analyst with DXC Australia after graduation.
The students, TasTAFE, the Tasmanian ICT industry, DXC and its customers all benefit from the partnership and the newly designed Service Desk Certificate IV course. It is helping to shape an educated and experienced workforce that understands a framework of best practices for IT managed services and also highlights items that would not usually be covered in traditional IT training courses, such as the importance of service level agreements (SLAs) and how they relate to a customer’s business.