“Employers are struggling to get workers whilst graduates are struggling to get jobs,” observed Dr Alan Finkel, Office of the Chief Scientist in Australia.
It’s the definition of irony for the local ICT labour market, as Government, businesses and tertiary organisations struggle to bridge the gap between an overcrowded interview room, and a growing sparsity of empty desks in tech offices across the country.
As outlined to ARN during the cover shoot of the May issue, partners up and down Australia are scouring recruitment websites for emerging talent, in a desperate attempt to meet the new demands placed on businesses.
Whether it be an IT managed services provider, systems integrator or traditional value-added reseller, new skill sets are required to better serve the Australian market.
But while the observations are clear, the execution remains complex.
“We must set out a challenge,” Dr Finkel said. “To make Australia’s ICT graduates world exemplars. No industry can create more wealth for our country than technology, in particular ICT; and the importance of acting now to develop the skills.”
On the flip side, the results of the 2015 Graduate Careers Australia report - which tracks the progress of graduates into employment - claims that 68.8 percent of bachelor graduates from the class of 2015 had full-time jobs four months after graduating, with 19.9 percent working on a part-time or casual basis.
Despite a slight rise from 2014 figures, this remains the lowest full-time employment rate for new graduates since the survey began in 1982.
Speaking alongside the Australian Information Industry Association, Australian Council of Deans of ICT, and the Australian Council of Deans of Engineering during a national forum to chart the future for Australian ICT education, Dr Finkel’s assessment was clear.
“We need new approaches for graduates with the optimal mix of deep discipline knowledge, complex problem solving skills, creativity and business nous,” he claimed.
During the debate, discussions centred on practical measures to help universities and industry project and prepare for fast-changing workforce needs.
Following the workshop, 25 participants have already volunteered to work with the organisers to take an action plan forward, with includes developing a reciprocal exchange program between university academics and industry.
In addition, early plans are in place to establishing a national annual review process between ICT faculties and industry that identifies the core and emerging issues in the technology sector.
“We also must set out a common understanding of key graduate attributes,” Dr Finkel added. “And also collaborate on the implementation of for-credit work integrated learning at the national scale in ICT; aligning with the National Strategy on Work Integrated Learning.”
As organisations join together to develop best practice guidelines for the effective operation of industry advisory boards in universities, today in Australia, partners continue to face the same struggles around resources and talent pools.
Specific to the channel, as new technologies flood the market, the priority for partners now focuses on the business aspect of the equation, centred around the up skilling and recruitment of new engineers, technicians and solution architects.
“My storage area network (SAN) worker has 20 years of experience,” Nexus IT Managing Director, Sean Murphy said.
“But my cloud worker has 20 months of experience. So how can I assess my place in the market? It’s the challenge of my life.”
Outlined during a recent ARN roundtable, Murphy’s concern is not an isolated incident for the partner community, which struggle to tap into new resources on a daily basis.
As reported by ARN, Huawei Technologies Australia, in partnership with the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN), will host 12 undergraduate students in China as part of its annual Seeds for the Future initiative later this year.
First launched in 2008, Seeds for the Future has, to-date, welcomed over 10,000 students from 150 universities across 54 countries.
While a two-week, hands-on learning experience in Huawei’s industry leading research laboratories will help foster new talent locally, can partners afford to wait for such programs to develop?
But perhaps crucially, are there suitable candidates already available?