GISP School Men of Business Successfully Implements Tech Taster Program

Men of Business Head of Pathways Nathan Antonik with Tech Tester participants at Gilmour Space

On the Gold Coast, a special organisation enables young men to follow an alternative pathway to a career. Most of the boys enter the trades and very few have the resources at home to develop their tech skills. We don’t know what we don’t know, as they say, which is why this type of program is vital to ensure future tech workers don’t fall through the cracks.

Men of Business (MOB) Academy is situated in the Southport Mall, a couple of hundred metres from the Broadwater. Started in 2020, the MOB mission is to work with at risk youth to give them a positive future. MOB joined the ACS ICT GISP in 2022 and under founder Marco Renai (2024 Australian of the Year for Queensland), have welcomed the engagement from the southeast Queensland tech community, with considerable support from ACS members.

The MOB Tech Taster has just completed a second year of hands-on skills and tech immersion facilitated by companies and individuals over 8 weeks in Term 2.

Head of Pathways Nathan Antonik has championed the program and is keen to continue building on it year on year. Nathan shared some encouraging feedback for the group involved in proving experiences. ‘Please never underestimate the impact you have had on these young men over a short amount of time.’

‘These are just hard facts – it does not take into account the difference you have made to their emotional wellbeing and the community connection forged by being part of a program focusing on interest learning in a safe / trusted environment.’

  • 90% attendance
  • All have expressed a desire to further their exploration into Tech
  • All expressed a dream to become employed within the Tech Industry
  • All listed every Tech Taster session as 8 – 10 in a Likert Scale for enjoyment
  • Westpac have committed to further work experience
  • MicroMelon have committed to work experience for a young man
  • 5 x young men will interview for an Internship with Aspire 42

In 2023 and 2024, MOB have been supported by ACS, employees, members and leaders including:

  • Beau Tydd (past Qld BEC chair)
  • Mat Eames (past Gold Coast Chapter Chair, current Qld BEC Chair)
  • Paul Walters (current Gold Coast Chapter Chair)
  • David Rudduck, CEO of Solis (Australia)
  • Pablo Farias, CEO and Founder of Zenva Academy
  • Ann Stevens, Assoc. Lecturer at TAFE Qld and XR Consultant at Imagine Realities
  • Matthew Jorgensen, Education Pathways and Partnerships Manager at ACS

The experiences offered to the boys have been many and varied and as listed above, are continuing.

Check out these very cool activities:

  • Free-roaming Virtual Reality at Zero Latency
  • Esports competitions with The Fuse Cup
  • Game Making with Zenva Academy and Toast Interactive
  • Excursion to Gilmour Space
  • Drone Flying with KJR
  • Cyber Security with Solis Security, TAFE Coomera and Mercury IT
  • Virtual Reality with Assoc. Professor Dr Michael Cowling
  • Computer Hardware and Networking with MicroMelon
  • Emerging Technologies with Blockchain Collective, Babu Pillai, Christopher Boyd and Debby Lo Dean
  • Entrepreneurship with Sharon Hunneybell (2023 WiT Award Winner) and Mat Eames
  • Tech Services with IBM, Mercury IT and MicroMelon

Trade Tasters have been used in the VET world for many years. In 2023, MOB student Mason participated in the Tech Taster program and was then successful in attaining a School-Based Traineeship (Cert III in IT) with Gold Coast Health through the ACS School to Tech Transition project.

How does it work? Tech professionals devise a 3-hour session of training or discovery based around a technology specialty and then run the session with the students. This can be hands-on like coding, immersive like Virtual or Augmented Reality, or even an excursion to an interesting workplace.