Australia is evolving into an economy driven by innovation and technology, with the ideas boom is all about encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs to use digital innovation as the cornerstone of their development and progress into the future.
Today students are told that the jobs they are studying for in school may not exist in the future. The future may very well be underpinned by coders and technological talent who have the ability to create their own jobs.
The use of digital technology in Australia has risen significantly in the last three years. According to Australia’s Digital Pulse report, between 2013-14 digital technologies contributed $79 billion to the Australian economy, which was up from $50 billion in 2011. By 2020, the demand for ICT workers is expected to reach over 700,000.
People want the ability to access more skills and knowledge training to prepare themselves for the jobs of the future, and organisations of all kinds are catching on. Earlier this year the City of Sydney released an action plan to support the growth of the city’s tech startup landscape, with Lord Mayor Clover Moore saying the city is home to a high growth of tech-based companies, but there is still plenty potential to grow through education.
“The needs of tech startups are often very different to those of other small businesses. To create the jobs of the future, we need to find ways to develop more skilled entrepreneurs, particularly women, and enable them to scale and succeed in a large and often global market,” explained Moore.
To help companies grow their internal capabilities and in addition help individuals progress in the digital technology space is Sydney startup Academy Xi. The business is a startup in itself, providing people with tech-based programs to help them upskill and reinvent their careers.
Founded by Ben Wong and Charbel Zeaiter, Academy Xi provides short courses in areas of science and technology on user experience design, service design and virtual reality design. Wong said that the approach to the courses is taken from a practical angle, rather than a technical one.
“We look at the whole idea of how do you create for each of these mediums an amazing experience, whether it be digital, apps, website or virtual reality. A lot of our programs are all very practical in nature and you work on a project of your choice and you take an idea through that concept and apply those learnings to a project.” he said.
Courses and part time projects run from $2,500 and aim to fill significant skill gaps in the work force. Participants with full time jobs can partake in the course over the weekend, so they can upskill while working full time.
Academy Xi was an idea first launched in January this year. Prior to launch Zeaiter had been running training programs for Velvet Onion, a user experience and service design agency that he founded in 2014. After connecting with Wong, Zeaiter discussed how their passion for education and the opportunity to essentially “change the world” through this powerful mechanism could work.
As CXO (Chief Experience Officer), Zeaiter believes that it’s important that the current curriculums in school remain current and regularly updated. As people, technology and practices change rapidly so should the evolution of teaching and education.
“Our almost fanatical focus on content, quality and outcomes ensures that we stay in line with the expectations of our industry,” said Zeaiter.
“As the often archaic structure of schools, universities and even government organisations are being tested, we’re forming alliances with important organisations such as the NSW Department of Education, who we’re working with as partners for our refreshed Service Design course as well as frequent event partnerships with Western Sydney University and University of Technology Sydney,” he continued.
Earlier this morning the edutech startup announced that it had received $260,000 in funding from Vivant Ventures and Annie Parker, angel investor and founder of chairwoman of Code Club Australia. Academy Xi closed its funding round early to focus the next six months on their new partnership and opportunities in the innovation space they are not yet able to share.
The strategic investment from Vivant Ventures and Parker is the beginning of a quest to bridge the growing digital skills gap in the broad digital community. It will foster the innovation and startup focus in Sydney and wider Australia from children to working professionals
As leaders in the design and innovation space, Vivant is always looking for talent to fuel growth. Founder Anthony Farah said he wanted to invest in a respected education partner who has delivered quality outcomes for students and program participants. Being on the board of Code Club Australia, Farah, along with fellow investor Parker, chose Academy Xi to support their mission to empower the next generation of change makers with practical and relevant skills.
Although there has been movement within the larger companies and organisation in focusing on upskilling, Academy Xi is giving a chance to the smaller players to start evolving and making a difference.
“Universities like UTS and UWS are making great moves on entrepreneurship, innovation and also a new approach to learning, and with every small win, we’re working together to create better learning outcomes that are current and industry relevant,” said Wong.
Over the next 12 months, Academy Xi plans to expand to Brisbane, Melbourne and then to Auckland in New Zealand. After a few enterprise training opportunities the team hope to launch internationally in Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam. The international courses would be short two or three day programs within corporates to build a scalable online platform that has the ability to engage and interact with students all over the world.
Wong said the ultimate vision of the company is to become a global lifetime learning hub.
“We aim to really impact our youth and next generation giving them the opportunity to find their true interest, passion, purpose, by arming them with future-proof skills so that they create their own reality.”
Image: Charbel Zeaiter and Ben Wong. Source: Supplied.