Local skills shortage set to rise

Local skills shortage set to rise

An Australian IT industry conglomerate, the IT&T Skills Task Force, anticipates the local industry will be looking for more than 30,000 people in the current financial year.

The finding stems from a report commissioned by the Task Force to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, who put the current demand for skilled employees at 9 per cent per year for at least the next five years.

"The findings show that without urgent action Australia's ability to become a leading online economy and participate in the Internet hypergrowth currently being experienced in the United States could be severely constrained," said Gerry Moriarty, the Task Force's chairman and Telstra's managing director of network and technology.

According to the report, Australia needs to concentrate on skilling up people in the areas of client/server applications, Internet, multimedia, database management services and system software support. An increase in demand for services consulting is also expected.

However, graduates alone cannot meet this demand with most respondents claiming that the vacant positions require at least one to three years experience.

"Demand generated by the move to an online economy is so strong and the pace of change so rapid that traditional education and training systems cannot solve the problem in isolation. Industry, government and education/training suppliers must develop solutions together," said Moriarty.

The Task Force has devised a three-point strategy to maintain Australia's skilled work force and help it begin to meet the massive demand generated by the IT industry. "We are pursuing a three-pronged approach, covering improved industry skills forecasting, better matching of industry needs with education suppliers, and improved careers awareness campaigns," Moriarty said.

In aid of these objectives the State and Federal Governments are contributing to the Task Force's scheme.

"The skills shortage is a global one. Australian IT&T professionals are very well regarded around the world and will be attracted offshore if we don't provide the right business environment here," warned Alan Baxter, chairman of the Australian Information Industry Association and chief executive office of DMR Consulting.

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