How mentoring builds skills for the jobs of the future

- By BPAY Group
The development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills in the workplace are critical to Australia’s economic growth, and the nation’s recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research has shown the gap between the knowledge provided by the education system and the skills demanded by employers and individuals is widening. According to a PwC report in 2015, 75% of the fastest-growing job opportunities require STEM skills, but there will continue to be a significant shortfall of skilled workers.
The report said “Australia is lagging on a number of key STEM indicators. STEM university completions are flat, the number of Year 12 students studying STEM subjects is declining and businesses are struggling to find STEM employees”.
An important part of solving the country's STEM skills shortage is embracing a diverse workforce. However, women currently represent just 29 per cent of the university-qualified STEM workforce, and trade union Professionals Australia warns this number is unlikely to increase anytime soon in its ‘Women Staying in The STEM Workforce’ report released in late October.
The report included a nationwide survey that revealed women who work in STEM-related fields are often underpaid, under-represented and unsupported. The survey also found that over one-third of the female STEM workforce, aged 25 to 35, said they intended to leave their profession within five years.
“Diversity, inclusion and flexibility play an important part of BPAY Group's culture and we are seeking to address skills shortages by offering mentoring programs and sponsoring scholarship programs to young people who aspire to develop STEM skills,” says Lucy Lithgow, Chief People Officer at BPAY Group.
UTS Women in Engineering and IT program
To help encourage the development of STEM skills among young women, BPAY Group sponsors the UTS Women in Engineering and IT scholarship program. The program provides an opportunity to empower and celebrate females in technology, giving access to role models in the industry that will encourage more girls to pursue careers in the field.
The Scholarship is a four-year program that aims to attract, retain and develop women in engineering and IT, and also gives them the confidence to have a voice and see how a business operates from the inside out.
BPAY Group’s Business Technology Services (BTS) team works collaboratively to form a rotational internship program that supports the intern's journey. This provides them with the opportunity to further develop in other areas of the business such as software engineering, cybersecurity, automation, and stakeholder analysis, and learn how software can be applied to the real-world to make meaningful products with a positive impact.
Lucy Mentoring Program
BPAY Group is also participating in the Lucy Mentoring Program run by UTS. It connects women studying engineering or technology at UTS to professionals for one-on-one mentoring. BPAY Group’s Women’s Forum members volunteer to mentor and guide women to set goals and work towards achieving them.
Having a role model in the industry, to learn from their experiences and journey boosts the mentee’s confidence to aspire for a successful career for themselves. The program is also valuable for mentors as they develop leadership skills and develop a network with other women from the industry. Most rewarding of all is the feeling of giving back and empowering another woman.
“I have a passion for encouraging women to follow careers in STEM and BPAY Group Women’s Forum provides a platform for our women across all levels of the organisation to support each other and their communities. I mentor young women at BPAY Group as well as students through the University of Technology Sydney Lucy Mentoring Program,” says Angela Donohoe, Chief Information Officer at BPAY Group.
“I have found these experiences to be incredibly rewarding, and a reminder of the importance of prioritising time to invest in young women and help them gain confidence to take the steps available to advance their careers in male dominated industries.”
Jannat Gohar, who was a mentee of BPAY Group Solutions Engineer Seema Ali from 2020, said “Lucy mentoring has changed my perception of who I am, and with what I want to do in the future. It has helped me build the confidence I need to realise that everyone in the industry genuinely wants to help newcomers. This program as also allowed me to meet new people, especially aspiring successful women.”
BPAY Group fosters an innovative culture where employees are encouraged to come up with innovative ideas to solve pain points and think of new ways to challenge the status quo. The company organises a company-wide event called Innov8 every year, where staff drop everything and focus solely on innovation. One of the mentees from the Lucy mentoring program participated in this year’s event.
Rupali Bhatke, mentee of BPAY Group’s Test Analyst Sheifaly Suri, said “I had the opportunity to work as a part of a Scrum Team for an Innov8 program. This fantastic opportunity gave me a real-life insight into how Scrum is implemented in the workplace, and truly intertwined my theoretical knowledge of it into a practical application.
“Not only did I learn about current technology and SDLC, but I also had a blast doing it with such an inspiring team. I'm glad that I was able to participate in such an exciting initiative, though thinking that my animated PowerPoint was going to be displayed for 100+ professionals to see startled me a little.”
Mentoring young people in high school
During 2021 BPAY Group staff also became mentors for high school students across Sydney with Raise Foundation, a registered Australian charity that empowers young people to be resilient, capable and connected, and ensures there are skilled adults in their lives who can support them. 
Each mentor was allocated a mentee for 22 weeks and had weekly one-on-one sessions to talk about life skills and to help the young person navigate challenges, and believe in themselves and others. Feedback from mentees ranged from “It was really good” to “This has fundamentally changed my life”!
“The Raise program pairs mentors with high school students in their community who are experiencing challenges that impact their mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and school engagement,” says Lithgow.
“Our approach to work flexibility has provided our people with the freedom and permission to focus on what fulfils them, and to do activities that foster their wellbeing and sense of purpose.
“For the seven team members participating in this initiative, it is a wonderful way for them to use the greater flexibility to give back to their local community. It’s important that we, as corporate citizens, continue to support mentoring programs for young people as they help build confidence and skills, both for the mentor and for those mentored,” she adds.
Published by BPAY Pty Ltd (ABN 69 079 137 518) email: The BPAY Scheme is managed by BPAY Pty Limited.  When you use BPAY payment products, the BPAY Scheme is paid fees relating to processing costs and BPAY Scheme membership.  Contact your financial institution to see if it offers BPAY payment products and to get the Product Disclosure Statement.  Any financial product advice provided by BPAY Pty Limited in relation to BPAY payment products is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on such advice, you should review the Product Disclosure.

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