Sun Microsystems in association with the NSW Government will offer 15 Java scholarships with a total value of $135,000 to high school and TAFE students in NSW.
Jim Hassell, managing director, Sun Microsystems Australasia, said the scholarships are part of Sun's ongoing commitment to fostering the use of open standards to help all Australians harness the power of the Internet.
Hassell added that Java has become "the language of the Internet because of its ability to run on any machine irrespective of the manufacturer".
The announcement is a component of the NSW Government's Information and Communications Technology Skills Action Plan launched by NSW Premier Bob Carr, the NSW Minister for IT, Kim Yeadon and Education and Training Minister, John Aquilina.
The initiative is a countermeasure, as it is estimated Australia will face a shortage of 180,000 skilled IT workers within three years. Scholarship winners will be trained in the Java programming language at Sun's Sydney training facility and through virtual classes delivered via the Internet.
To help students pursue specific areas of interest, a mentoring program will also be put in place.
Under the scholarship program, graduates will gain qualifications as a Certified Programmer for the Java Platform. Sun is currently working with the Department of Education and Training to finalise details for the introduction of the program.