Tech giant Microsoft is continuing its aggressive pitch for more government business, announcing that it will offer subsidised training in its cloud technology to 5000 public servants.
Along with training companies DDLS, New Horizons and Advanced Training, Microsoft has developed specialised cloud computing courses at different levels, with the company saying they are designed to line up with the government's Secure Cloud Strategy.
Some 800 public service employees are expected to take part in the training in the next four months, with 5000 people in the public sector set to go through a Microsoft course by 2020.
Microsoft Australia managing director Steven Worrall said that while the government had not asked Microsoft to develop the courses specifically, they were developed in response to the government's strategy document, which was released in February.
"We've responded to the extent that we've always viewed that it's a collaboration between government and industry that's going to be the most effective way forward, which is why this announcement today is very much part of a sequence of announcements we've made."
The company has contacted "pretty much all of the agencies," about the courses, Mr Worrall said. The bill will be mostly footed by Microsoft and the training companies involved. Mr Worrall said the private companies involved were subsidising more than 70 per cent of the costs.
"For example, a five-day class might typically cost about $4000; with this program that class will be less than $1000 for those five days. So heavily subsidised to recognise that this is a unique moment. That is, we're going through a massive digitisation phase and we need a massive injection of new skills. We felt this this the best way for us to help contribute," he said.
The company has already been pursuing business in the government sector, announcing last year that it would be offering "hyperscale" cloud services in Canberra, with two new regions for secure government data to be opening at the Canberra Data Centre in the first half of next year.
The company is not shying away from the prospect of more work with the government, saying more projects like this are the way forward.
"It's a collaboration between industry and government, and obviously specifically us and government, that we think is the best way forward. The combination I think works to the extent that we provide a lot of the cloud infrastructure, we obviously can through this program, help to address the other issue and perhaps the more important issue which is people over technology," Mr Worrall said.
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said the government welcomed the announcement from Microsoft.
"Microsoft's announcement today further demonstrates the significance of cloud computing to digital transformation. We are pleased to be working with the private sector on this important agenda," he said.
"This initiative also complements the investment by this Government to build the digital skills of the Australian Public Service."
Mr Keenan said the government is spending $13.9 million on attracting and retaining "digital talent" and "to develop digital leadership skills in the Australian Public Service".