Govt urges collaboration on dwindling ICT skills

The Australian federal government urged the Australian ComputerSociety to collaborate with universities, the ICT (Infocomm andCommunications Technology) and the industry to address dwindlingICT skill shortages.

A government committee identified government security, businessanalysis, management and open source support as the most affectedareas.

Special Minister of State Gary Nairn blamed falling unemploymentand high wages for the shortages.

Higher wages and historically low unemployment over the past decadehas produced a unique situation where there are more jobs thanthere are skilled workers, Nairn said.

ACS president Phillip Argy said this shift would cause employers toinvest more in recruiting IT staff.

“Skills shortages will drive employers to be more creative; [this]highlights the increasing shift of power towards employees in thesector,” he said.

An ICT taskforce, setup to find solutions to the shortages, hasrecommended the sector work with universities to promote theindustry.

Argy agreed with the recommendation, saying collaboration willincrease the attractiveness of the industry.

“We would like to see industry and the tertiary sector workclosely; there needs to be targeted initiatives to attract youngpeople,” he said.

“[The taskforce] is also suggesting that we look for alternativesources of suitable people, such as high school leavers, as well asexpanding recruitment models to include cadetships andtraineeships,” Nairn said, adding that importing skilled workersand forming partnerships are viable options.

Argy noted that skill importation is the last option, failingalternative measures.

“If there were no alternative and a key project would otherwise bestalled, then [importation is critical]. However, we want to seedomestic retraining, cross training and upskilling avenuesexhausted before the import option is considered,” he said.

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