Wednesday 22 June, 2022: Woolworths Group has partnered with Community Corporate to help create career pathways for refugees with in-demand technology skills through the new Refugee Digital and Technology Cadetship Program.
From July, a group of eight Iraqi and Syrian refugees with technology experience will embark on 12-week paid cadetships across Woolworths Group’s Technology, WooliesX Technology and WiQ data analytics teams. A total of 30 refugees are expected to complete cadetships with Woolworths Group over the next 18 months.
Refugees with qualifications and experience from their own countries often struggle to obtain employment without prior work experience in Australia. Woolworths Group has partnered with Community Corporate to help connect refugees with cadetships that match their experience, with training and certification provided by ServiceNow.
Cloud computing company ServiceNow has conducted an eight-week training program for participants prior to the commencement of their cadetships to support the transition of their skills to Australian workplaces and provide recognised industry accreditation.
With the technology sector Australia-wide struggling to access skilled talent following COVID migration and border closures, the program engages the underutilised talent of Australia’s refugee community who can contribute valuable skills where shortages currently exist.
Woolworths Group General Manager of Inclusion, Catherine Hunter said: “This program makes clear the incredible reciprocal value we can create by better including our refugee community and recognising the valuable skills they bring with them to Australia.
“We’re committed to being better together and building a workplace where team members from all backgrounds can grow their career and feel they belong.
“Since 2018, our supermarkets business has welcomed more than 200 refugees through our Refugee Employment Program, helping them build new lives and community connections in Australia. Now we’re excited to be taking a more specialised approach in technology.
“These candidates are immensely qualified. This isn’t only about social responsibility, this is a strategic program to engage underutilised tech talent in fields where demand has never been greater - and we’re grateful for their contribution to our business.”
Community Corporate CEO, Carmen Garcia said: “Many refugees struggle to find meaningful employment because their overseas qualifications and experience are not recognised in Australia.
“As a result, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found that within two years of arrival, only 25 per cent of refugees are in employment.
”Now is the time to trial an alternative pathway for industry to access a skilled workforce by unleashing the untapped potential of our refugees.
“We believe there is an abundance of refugee talent out there, and Woolworths Group is leading the charge to leverage the skills, experiences and passion refugees bring to their new home country to solve our nation’s skills shortages.“
The inaugural group of cadets has already met with Woolworths Group mentors who will be welcoming them into their teams from July. Each cadet will be partnered with a peer in their team, in addition to a direct line manager and more senior mentor to support them through their on-the-job learning. Once the cadetships are complete, participants will be considered for any relevant permanent positions open at the time.
The cadetships span the three core tech hubs within Woolworths Group:
Woolworths Groups’ existing Refugee Employment Program is delivered in partnership with Community Corporate and is the nation’s largest single employer-led refugee-specific sustainable employment program. Focussed on the Woolworths supermarkets business, the program has provided employment to more than 200 refugees from 23 different cultural backgrounds since 2018, spanning stores and customer fulfilment centres. The new digital cadetship program represents Woolworths Group’s first refugee program tailored to corporate roles.
Sarmad arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2019, having fled Iraq with his family in 2016. He has eight years of technology experience, having completed a Degree in Computer Engineering in Iraq. In Australia, he has undertaken a Diploma in IT Networking from TAFE NSW. With no Australian work-experience, Sarmad has faced challenges in finding employment in his field of training. Next month, he will commence a 12-week paid cadetship within Woolworths Group Technology.
Sarmad said: “This is an excellent opportunity for me to gain local experience to work in the IT field again.This is an excellent opportunity and like my dream come true. I have always had a passion for working in the IT networking field and this experience will give me an excellent opportunity to continue learning and evolving to reach my future goals.”
Shahad is an Iraqi refugee who left her home country in 2016. She has completed IT courses in web development and coding, as well as a Certificate III in IT and Digital Media. Shahad will commence a 12-week paid internship within Woolworths Group Technology next month. Shahad is excited about the technology industry becoming more diverse and increasing opportunities for not only refugees, but women as well.
Shahad said: “I'd like to introduce more women to IT as it's typically a male dominated industry and we need to change that. Personally, I want to see the results of all the efforts I put in, all the nights I kept studying and most importantly, want to see how my family will be proud of me.”
Sarmad and Shahad will be joining teams in Sarah’s department through their cadetship. Sarah says: “Meeting our cadets it’s clear that they have a desire to contribute and the skills we’re looking for. It’s a real shame for our industry to think they mightn’t be recognised in regular recruitment approaches and it’s important we find new ways to surface talent we might otherwise miss out on. I’m very excited to have them join our team.”