Microsoft and DDLS help veterans gain meaningful employment while plugging the tech skills gap
The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) is an initiative offered by Microsoft, which provides military service veterans with 17 weeks of full-time free training in the skills required for today’s technology industries.
Microsoft has partnered with Lumify Group, Australia’s largest provider of ICT training, and its subsidiary The Australian Institute of ICT to deliver these services locally. The program aims to assist veterans in gaining meaningful employment opportunities post-service, while also alleviating the technology skills shortage facing Australian companies.
During the course, students are offered one of two tracks, either Cloud Application Development (CAD) or Server & Cloud Administration (SCA) – two skillsets in very high demand locally. They are also guided through career planning, professional skills building (including resume writing and interview techniques) and job search strategies.
Post-completion, every student receives an interview with Microsoft or one of its local hiring partners, including Fujitsu, Accenture, JP Morgan and Westpac, leading to valuable job opportunities with major companies.
Life in the military is very different to life in the outside world. Rigid rules, structures, and career paths mean that most military personnel have had very little exposure to the corporate environment, which can create a sense of anxiety when it comes to finding a job post-deployment.
In recent research by the University of NSW on the struggles veterans face in re-entering the workforce, almost every participant acknowledged that transitioning from military life to civilian employment came with a significant culture shock.
“They spoke of feeling anxious and frustrated; of not understanding others’ motives and behaviours, and of feeling misunderstood; of struggling to translate their military service to civilian jobs; of being cut off from their previous support networks; and of feeling, at times, very alone.”
However, one industry is crying out for new talent, casting a wide net and recognising the benefits people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse experiences can bring: Technology. The industry has been plagued with critical skills shortages for the better part of a decade. Australia will need one million people in tech jobs by 2025, meaning around 260,000 more people will need to enter the workforce in that time, according to industry forecasts.
With the right support and training opportunities, veterans can be a source of untapped potential for the technology industry, helping to plug the skills gap facing Australian organisations.
Lumify Group and Microsoft have partnered on the MSSA program to achieve exactly this outcome.
MSSA Australia is a 17-week intensive program designed to equip veterans with skills in high demand and help them overcome the challenges they face in transitioning from military service into employment in the civilian community.
Specialisations are offered in either Cloud Application Development (CAD) or Server & Cloud Administration (SCA), two key skill sets required for today’s growing technology industry. In addition to its technical curriculum, the course offers a variety of professional development opportunities. It enables students to engage with technical mentors and industry leaders in a professional capacity and offers guidance in career planning and skills development.
Successful completion of the course provides veterans with a pathway towards Microsoft certification and a job interview with Microsoft or one of its local hiring partners.
MSSA participant Matt Spencer says the biggest challenge the course helped him overcome was understanding how the corporate side of business works.
“Understanding how to market yourself on platforms like LinkedIn and write a strong resume is really useful, which was taught during our professional development days.” And, he says, the course provided good support to help participants find work on completion. “The career development managers hold weekly meetings with graduates to help them search for employment and provide continual support.”
For Matt, the most valuable skills he acquired included proficiency in Git (an open-source version control system used for source code management) which can be used in tandem with Azure DevOps, object-orientated programming and the basics of syntax.
The course component he liked most was a week dedicated to working on a group project, which mimicked the environment in a real-life technology role. “It involved a lot of investigation and teamwork. We were required to write the code to make a useable desktop application, which reinforced everything we had learnt in the previous seven weeks.”
He said the course was not without its challenges but being a member of a cohort of people who share a military background helped him overcome them. “It was a lot to learn in a short time, but having other people on the course going through the same issues really helped. The instructors showed great interest in passing on all their knowledge and the practical activities helped me grasp the theory.”
Matt was subsequently offered a role with Microsoft as a Software Engineer before he even completed his course. In his current role, Matt wants to encourage other veterans to give the program a go “There are many transferable skills that veterans may not realise are applicable to the technology industry, such as self-motivation, working across both individual and team environments and the ability to research effectively.”
“My goal for career progression is to continue with my education and learn to become an effective member of a programming team. I also want to become a mentor for current or ex-serving veterans looking into a career in tech to help them along the journey,” said Matt of his future goals.
Matt’s experience can serve as a reminder to Australia’s technology sector to harness the untapped potential of veterans and other groups re-entering the workforce.
The struggles Australian technology companies face in finding qualified staff have been widely reported, and former ADF members are an excellent source of new talent to help plug this skills gap.
According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the ADF has averaged a separation rate of eight to 10 per cent over recent years. This translates to a loss of 5,000–6,000 people per year, many of whom are already trained and highly skilled.
All of these veterans share the same challenges of adapting to the world of work outside the military, and programs like the MSSA can help meet the needs of both ex-servicemen and servicewomen and employers at the same time.
Microsoft Corporation is the world’s largest software company. It enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. The company opened its Australian office in 1983 and today employs more than 2000 people. Similarly, Microsoft opened its New Zealand offices in 1991, which currently employs more than 350 people.
About Lumify Group
Lumify Group is Australia’s largest provider of corporate IT and process training. It has the largest portfolio of strategic partners and courses in Australia and partners with world-class companies to help organisations and individuals in the IT industry remain up to date with new processes, technology and platforms to reduce risk and enable efficient business practices. It has a presence in almost every state capital in Australia and New Zealand, and the Philippines.