Why everyone wants to hire this man

Brent Brentan faced an uncertain future when the pandemic hit – so he did something new and thousands of Australians followed suit.

The first thing Brent Brentan felt when the pandemic hit was fear.

“I was scared of the virus, of course,” says the Italian-born Sydney man, “I was worried about my family back home but I also immediately lost my job in the hospitality industry and I don’t didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

“I think it was March 4th,” Brent continues, “so very early in the scheme of things, which gave me a lot of time to think about my next move.”

Like thousands of hospitality workers across the country, the closures meant the future was uncertain for Brent, who had 15 years of experience in the industry, including a stint running the iconic group Rockpool.

“I was really worried that the hospitality industry was definitely decimated, and I thought, ‘I have to do something completely different,'” he says.

“I’ve always had an interest in technology and always wanted to learn coding, but I never had the time with the long hours I put into my old career. So I did some research and I found a course.

Brent’s decision to turn to tech is part of a larger trend, partly driven by the pandemic. It even has a name: increasing digital skills.

“The world is rapidly moving towards an all-digital future, and as technology advances, the global workforce must adapt and transition to stay efficient,” says Sally Elson, people manager at MYOB. “The more digital processes a company supports, the more important it is to not only recruit new talent with the digital skills required to navigate those processes, but also provide digital skills training to the existing team.”

“It is estimated that over 250,000 Australian jobs will be created through digitalization by 2025 and by 2030 the entire Australian economy will have transitioned to become fully digital. Currently, nearly two in three Australian workers are applying digital skills in their work, and over the next five years that number is expected to rise to 90%.”

While Brent considered enrolling in TAFE or Uni to broaden his skills, he also wanted to speed up the process. He found a three-month crash course called “Coding Bootcamp” and signed up to take it part-time over six months.

After completing his training, Brent landed a position with ARQ, a technology solutions provider committed to reskilling employees in technical roles.

“Some of the most in-demand roles we’re seeing right now include product designers, engineers (data, cloud, platform), developers, and delivery specialists,” says ARQ Group CEO Tristan Sternson.

“For Australia to become a leading digital economy, we must work together to develop new local talent to meet the growing demand in digital technology industries. We are techies at heart and have put implemented our ARQ Academy TDx program, where we have trained over 100 people in technology-related roles and are on track to double that in 2022”

Now working as an associate software engineer at ARQ, Brent says the trade-off for starting at the bottom of a new industry after so long at the top of your last is the opportunity for growth.

“It’s so gratifying to know that there’s no limit to progression in the digital world,” says Brent, “people outside of tech think anyone working in tech has to go through the classic computer science degree, but I don’t want that. Diverse experience and transferable skills enrich the tech world. I brought a lot of skills from my years in hospitality to my new role , and that’s for the best.

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