When Melbourne was plunged into lockdown, Catie used the extra time freed up by the restrictions on socialising to learn how to code. Every day after work, Ms Strigenz would spend two or three hours studying and watching free university lectures online.
“I just kept taking courses until I felt like I had a decent enough portfolio [to look for] internships,”
— Catherine Strigenz
Experts say the tech sector must do a better job of convincing other workers like Ms Strigenz to switch careers if it is to meet the growing demand for digital skills.
Nicole Karagiannis, chief people and culture officer at health technology company Harrison.ai, said encouraging career-switchers to move into tech would play a crucial role in plugging the industry’s major skills gap.
Asked to explain how she evaluated a career switcher’s application, Ms Karagiannis said she looked at “a combination of things”.
“It’s whether they’ve had college or university qualifications along the way. It’s whether they’ve done any research or learning around our tech stack, and [whether they’ve] learnt about a bit of software that we use,” she said.
Ms Strigenz told The Australian Financial Review that she sees more of a future in tech than in nursing, not least because the latter is a physical job that has already caused her two back injuries.
“My work-life balance is way better [than it was in] nursing,” — Catherine Strigenz
The Tech Council of Australia has previously made clear that the tertiary education system will not produce enough skilled workers on its own to meet industry demand.
The council’s head of ecosystem capability, Scarlett McDermott, said it was difficult but not impossible for someone without a background in technology to break into the tech and artificial intelligence industry.