CXO

How NAB is taking Australia's skills shortage into its own hands

The National Australia Bank is seeking 2,000 tech-focused staff and sending more than 2,000 of its existing staff through training provided by AWS to combat the looming skills shortage.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) announced in November it was planning on cutting a total of 4,000 jobs from its workforce. It stated at the time that 6,000 roles will be impacted as the bank "further automates and simplifies" its business, while 2,000 new jobs will be created as a result of the restructure.

A week later, the bank unveiled its plans to begin immediately hiring more staff, telling TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet it would be seeking 600 technology specialists spanning software engineering, data, architecture, and cybersecurity.

The recruitment drive is part of NAB's plan to reshape its workforce and create up to 2,000 new jobs by 2020, as it attempts to reach its plan of upping its Customer Journeys teams from seven to 20 by this time.

SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)

In delivering its financial results for the first half of the 2018 financial year, NAB revealed it had focused heavily on its technology capability during the six-month period, scooping up executive talent from major tech firms and international banks.

But with a looming skills shortage facing Australia in regards to technology-related roles, NAB is taking the task of increasing the skills of its workforce into its own hands. The bank is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver the NAB Cloud Guild, an internal program that offers up AWS skills training.

The training program will be available to more than 2,000 of NAB's staff. Graduates will become certified AWS Cloud practitioners and have the ability to continue training to become an associate developer, an associate systems operator, or an associate architect.

Funded by NAB and run by AWS, the three-to-five day cloud training will focus on the areas of architecture, security, developers, operations, and big data, and will be tailored to different competency levels, Patrick Wright, NAB chief technology and operations officer, told TechRepublic.

"We're in the middle of a digital revolution, but it's actually done by people ... we can't do it if we don't train and invest in our people," he explained.

"What's fundamental about building tech skills in our company and in Australia is an investment ... this isn't the last one we're going to do, we intend to continue this journey of partnering with companies who have great technology to teach our people how to work in the modern world."

According to Wright, the better NAB can equip staff, the better the company, community, and country will be.

"It just lifts everyone — as the water rises, so does our boat," he added.

To Wright, a big part of the bank's wider digital transformation journey is about investing in its people, to try and help those that can and want to move up the tech curve.

"We actually believe we have a deeper responsibility to the community and it isn't just about lifting our own skills; this is about lifting Australia," he continued. "As people leave the company, and maybe go to the blue bank ... don't we have a responsibility to equip them for the future rather than condemn them to where they are?"

NAB Labs, NAB's innovation arm, recently revealed plans to hire an additional 35 full-time staff, boosting the total to 85, in addition to the handful of the bank's staff that spend time within Labs to build out their ideas.

Speaking with TechRepublic, the bank's chief operating officer Antony Cahill said NAB Labs gives the bank the opportunity to play with some emerging technologies while also driving innovation within the company.

"[It's about] putting some of our biggest and brightest in an environment where they can actually just step back and have time to think, experiment, and try different things — really allow them to work through development and new approaches," he said.

"For us, it's this idea of unleashing this new energy across the company."

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Instead of solely relying on poaching tech talent from elsewhere, NAB is looking to train its existing staff.
  • NAB believes the best way to go through a digital transformation in a highly-regulated industry like banking is to bring the staff along for the journey.

Also see:

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(Image: Supplied)

About Asha McLean

With a degree in Communications, and a background in technical writing, Asha has left the engineering world and joined the ZDNet team in Sydney as a journalist.

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