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Mainframe course drifts, ATO seeks more skills

Mainframe course drifts, ATO seeks more skills

No decision to start additional course

Griffith University's mainframe training joint venture with Global Online Learning has come to an end as the provider moves closer to government departments in Canberra, which are recruiting more big iron skills, especially at the tax office.

The university's head of the school of information and communication technology, Dr Michael Blumenstein, said the five-year contract was scheduled to wind up at the end of the year.

"The contract has ended, however, the program is being seen through to its entirety with existing students finishing the course," Blumenstein said.

"We retain our interest and expertise in delivery of this program but we haven't looked further in terms of where we are going to go [and] no future offerings have been explored."

The move comes as one large mainframe site, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is hiring mainframe administrators and developers to support its big iron infrastructure.

Only this week the ATO released another tender for the appointment of another nine mainframe developers to work on twelve-month contracts within the ICT business line production systems support team.

The training provider, Global Online Learning, has now inked a new partnership with the University of Canberra, which, according to director Dr Murray Woods, is geographically better suited for mainframe skills development.

"The contract was coming to full term and there were ongoing discussions regarding additional investments to maintain programs at current level," Woods said. "Griffith University made the decision to withdraw further delivery of the programs on the basis that the investment is likely to require additional staff and resources."

Woods said that decision has to be considered in the context of Griffith University relative to the University of Canberra, which is at the doorstep of the largest mainframe employers in the country.

"As program is developed over five years, the close proximity of mainframe employers is now regarded as of primary importance," Woods said.

Griffith University may not have decided to pursue its own mainframe training courses, but Blumenstein is satisfied with the success of the program.

"If you ask the students it was a great success," he said. "The contract has ended but we are still bringing students through the program and they are getting employed. It's almost 100 percent success as they have to start work immediately after the program."

If Griffith were to go it alone or partner with another mainframe training provider, Woods would not be concerned as he believes more mainframe courses would broaden market appeal.

"The more people that are applying skills in this space the better it is but when you look at the technological developments that will happen with this platform over next five years you need to make sure you're not teaching mainframes for the 1990s," Woods said. "The imperative is to be contemporaneous with the release of technology and requirements of industry."


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