Press Release IT People

ACS Foundation ICT Scholarships Proven as the Right Model

The ACS Foundation (ACSF), whose charter is to encourage private and public sponsorship of ICT higher education and research initiatives, announces today that in the last financial year it attracted more than $7.46 million from donors, which supported more than 365 scholarships.

The ACS Foundation (ACSF), whose charter is to encourage private and public sponsorship of ICT higher education and research initiatives, announces today that in the last financial year it attracted more than $7.46 million from donors, which supported more than 365 scholarships.

This is an increase of more than 11 percent on the previous financial year and is continuing proof of the ACSF service model’s success as a key component in the development of Australia’s ICT industry, and it takes the total raised by the ACS Foundation to more than $42.5 million.

The number of small to medium ICT businesses in Australia is estimated to be at the 22,000 mark. With the industry set to grow from a $131 billion sector today to more than $1 trillion by 2050, the opportunities for dynamic growth are only going to be limited by access to skilled, enthusiastic people. 

John Ridge AM, Executive Director of the ACSF, said: “What differentiates us and is really important - particularly to smaller, leaner operations - is that we take a very hands-on approach and work with our sponsoring businesses to resolve the complex issue of matching emerging talent to their projects. The ACSF imprimatur also lifts the marketplace profile of smaller ICT providers to attract the top graduates.” 

The ACSF seeks funding to ensure the successful collaboration between the ACSF, academia, students and the private sector for the identification and nurturing of students to further strengthen Australia’s ICT industry.  

The ACSF Work Integrated Learning (WIL) scholarships are for project based real-life industry experience to complement students’ academic studies. They are offered to ICT sector students to assist and prepare them to more successfully make the transition between their studies and industry.

In the last financial year 365 scholarships were awarded. “These new, enthusiastic professionals are now able to play their part in ensuring the expansion of a dynamic, innovative ICT sector in this country,” Ridge said.

The success of the scholarship scheme relies on the generosity of organisations that donate ACS Foundation scholarships and the businesses and institutions that have ensured the success of these ICT sector learning opportunities.

Ridge said: “The range of multi-national organisations and smaller companies involved in the WIL program shows how applicable and valuable it is to enterprises right across the spectrum.” 

The ACSF works to overcome the difficulties experienced by Australia’s secondary school curricula and tertiary institutions in adapting to the rapidly changing demands of the global ICT sector. There are also considerable problems attracting students to ICT courses and the high attrition rate of domestic students further exacerbates the ICT skills shortage.

Ridge said: “The ACSF is an active conduit between coursework theory and business practice. Our role is to represent to academia the diversity of the industry in Australia so policy makers and course developers are better able to address the needs of the sector’s end customers.” 

Success stories

Frontline Systems Australia recognised the benefits of building a resource base through taking on an evolving team of energetic young ICT students as interns over many years. Steve Murphy, Frontline’s founder, said: “If we have a project or gap in a skillset we can pull in a graduate and ACSF takes the pain away from our endeavours to find the right people.”

An example of the mutual value in taking on an intern can be found in that of John Painter and his ACS Foundation scholarship at Frontline. His experience was that: “Arriving at Frontline as an eager uni student I learnt, in the dynamic world of IT, how to translate business requirements to technical systems; that technology can’t just be smart, it must be cost effective and efficient. 

“Frontline’s exceptional engineering team tested me technically while teaching me how to interact with project managers and other customer executives before putting in customer sites. Because of that solid foundation I was able to quickly progress to leading projects and now the launch of my own operation,” Painter said. (Painter launched Monitex, an enterprise-grade, interactive monitoring and reporting platform for data centres and large co-location customers, in June this year.)

Similarly, Fast Track Communications worked with the ACSF to bring in under-graduates with their current technical knowledge and train them to Fast Track’s business and customer requirements.

Geoff Bednal, General Manager at Fast Track Communications, said: “John Ridge and the ASCF have a truly rare and valuable understanding across the broad academic, training and business landscape. They helped identify the skills we were looking for and how to package our offering to make sure we attracted the best candidates. The scholarship is a very flexible structure to make sure it works for everyone.

“As a smaller organisation, the considerable ACSF effort to vet the candidates made all the difference and was a far superior result than trying to run a general job ad and interview candidates by ourselves.” 

When completing his Master of Engineering Management from University of Technology, Sydney, John Osorio applied to the ACSF in a long held desire to break out of his background in telecommunications and into the broader ICT industry.

“Being matched to the IT support engineer scholarship at Fast Track was exactly what I was looking for. It gives me training in problem solving, customer contact and new areas such as sales. And, as part of the scholarship I was required to undertake formal professional development.”

 Find out more

The ACSF Work Integrated Learning (WIL) scholarships are opportunities for project based experiences to complement students’ academic studies. The relevant, real-life placements introduce WIL students to professional ethics and behaviour, communications and team work.

Available scholarships and details of the projects are being continually updated on the ACS Foundation website.

 About The ACS Foundation (

The ACS Foundation was established in August 2001 to encourage both private and public sponsorship of ICT higher education and research. By increasing funding opportunities for industry to contribute to education programs, the Foundation seeks to create a highly skilled workforce, able to effectively access research and industry-specific training. Since its establishment, the ACS Foundation has raised more than $42.5 million and awarded more than 3,850 scholarships.

The prime scholarship facilitator focused exclusively on the ICT industry, the ACS Foundation receives funding from ICT companies, industry associations, Government bodies, individuals and the ACS itself. An ATO-designated Deductible Gift Recipient, the ACS Foundation provides tax effective programs for industry and private donors.

Contact John Ridge on 0407 913 992 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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