Pitch@Parliament: closing the skills gap in defence and cybersecurity

Pitch@Parliament: closing the skills gap in defence and cybersecurity

The NSW Department of Industry recently played the role of matchmaker, connecting university students with prospective suitors in the defence and cybersecurity industries. Students and industry leaders met at two Pitch@Parliament events designed to help bridge the skills gap in these crucial sectors.

The idea behind the events was to allow companies in industries with looming skills gaps to pitch to budding university students seeking work experience and internship placements.

The Cybersecurity Pitch@Parliament and Defence Pitch@Parliament follow on from the success of the 2016 MedTech Pitch@Parliament, which attracted 27 medical technology companies and more than 85 students studying degrees associated with medical technology.

The Pitch@Parliament concept was first instigated by Minister Roberts in 2015 to profile NSW startup talent and skills to corporate Australia and his Parliamentary colleagues. The department extended this concept in 2016 to meet skill requirements and to help students find work experience and internship opportunities.

Defence on the offensive

On Tuesday 28 March 2017, some of Australia's biggest defence companies rolled up to NSW Parliament House for the inaugural Defence Pitch@Parliament event, ready to convince some of our finest university students to build their careers in the defence industry.

The Minister for Trade and Industry, The Hon Niall Blair MLC, described the event, organised by the NSW Department of Industry, as a ‘win-win for Defence, industry, graduates and [the] future economy’.

The event involved 100 university students from seven NSW universities studying PhDs, masters and honours degrees in defence-related disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, maths and IT.

More than a dozen major defence companies pitched their appeal as potential employers, delivering one-minute pitches highlighting their skill requirements and key strengths as an employer.

Anne Bettens, 23, who is studying for her Masters in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sydney, said, ‘The event overall was a really positive experience. I enjoyed listening to the companies pitch themselves and found it particularly useful learning each one's role in the defence industry.

‘The one-on-one rounds that followed were a great way to make industry connections and gain further insight into what can be expected in this field from engineers and the like.’

And it wasn’t just the student who walked away with a positive experience. ‘We were most impressed with the calibre of students and their enthusiasm to join the Defence Industry’, said Angela Cusack of Rheinmetall Defence Australia.

Daniel Newman of prime defence contractor Thales commented, ‘The quality of the students was excellent.’

Companies that pitched at Defence Pitch@Parliament included:

  • Airbus Group Asia Pacific
  • ASC
  • BAE Systems Australia
  • Boeing Defence Australia
  • Broadspectrum
  • Defence Science and Technology Group
  • DXC Technology
  • Raytheon Australia
  • Rheinmetall
  • Rockwell Collins Australia
  • Saab Australia
  • Thales Australia
  • Varley

Watch Ribit's video about Defence Pitch@Parliament

The event involved 100 university students studying PhDs, masters and honours in defence-related disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, maths and IT from seven NSW universities. Ribit, an online job matching platform, coordinated the student participation at the event.

Securing the future of cybersecurity

Cybersecurity was the focus of a second Pitch@Parliament event at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday 9 May. More than 145 students from seven universities participated, together with 26 of the state’s largest companies.

Guest speaker Minister Blair emphasised the importance of increasing the cybersecurity skill set within the workforce. He said that ‘strong cybersecurity will be fundamental to our growth and prosperity in the global economy as well  as our national security.’

Minister Blair explained that the event ‘served a serious purpose, to help some of our brightest students consider future careers in the fast growing field of cybersecurity.’

The NSW Government’s Cybersecurity Industry Development Strategy, currently in development, has identified an increase in demand for cybersecurity professionals and a widening skills gap that is a barrier to sustainable growth for the NSW cybersecurity industry.

The Cybersecurity Pitch@Parliament event will go some way to bridging the skills gap. It is hoped that connecting the multiple industry sectors experiencing cybersecurity skills shortages with university students studying cybersecurity-related disciplines will lead to work experience placements, internships and potential job opportunities in the sector.

Companies that participated in the cybersecurity event included:

  • Atlassian
  • BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
  • Caltex Australia Limited
  • Clisso
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Deloitte Australia
  • Dimension Data Australia
  • DXC Technology
  • Ernst & Young
  • Google
  • HackLabs
  • Hivint
  • IBM Australia
  • Informed Solutions
  • Mastercard
  • Mercury Information Security Services
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • NSW Department of Finance, Services & Innovation
  • Pure Hacking
  • Qantas
  • Shearwater Solutions
  • Tata Consultancy Services Limited
  • Telstra Corporation Limited
  • Thales Australia
  • UpGuard Inc.
  • Westpac Banking Corporation

Read other coverage about Pitch@Parliament