IT skills shortage gets centred

IT skills shortage gets centred

Resellers, integrators and channel players may soon find the IT skills shortage easing in New South Wales, thanks to the formation of an education centre which has evolved from the combined cooperation of the NSW Ministry of Information Technology and companies such as Unysis, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, AUSeNET, EMC and Bullant.

While small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are being encouraged to approach the centre with skills and infrastructure requirements, the reseller channel is welcome to become involved in the project management side of the centre.

"Clearly we can't manage thousands of partners," explained centre director Phil Dodd. "However, any organisation that feels they can make a contribution should contact us. We are looking for a range of skills and opportunities that businesses can share with the next generation. It's all about providing the opportunity for the transfer of relevant business knowledge and approaches." The impressively titled NSW E-Commerce Centre of Excellence is already enabling TAFE and University students to participate in real-life projects. Centre management reports that the skills required to wire up and install the IT resources to run the facility will be outsourced to local TAFEs.

"Although tertiary institutions in Australia are doing a very good job, there is still criticism coming from industry that the focus of the courses on offer are too academic," Dodd said. "We want to take those students who have the academic training at TAFE or Uni and introduce [them to] a real-world focus.

"Working while they are finishing their studies will allow [these] students to appreciate the deadline pressures and delivery requirements they will have to meet when they graduate," he added.

Unlike similar Unisys-driven institutions currently in operation in Europe, the NSW E-Commerce Centre of Excellence will emphasise business skills, as well as engaging in research and development activities.

"Australia is a different market; we have designed the centre according to local industry needs and focused on certain areas that [are lacking], apparent [from] our talks with the Government," Dodd explained.

The centre's "real-life skills" approach is derived directly from the Government's dual goals of increasing the adoption of new e-commerce approaches to business and growing the IT skills base in NSW.

"The centre will be designed to allow for businesses to have access to our up-and-coming IT talent right across the state. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to work on practical ‘real-life' business projects and gain access to industry expertise while they complete their education," commented Unisys spokesperson Alan Smith.

In selecting Parramatta as the location for the centre, the Government hopes to reaffirm its commitment to regional Sydney and is touting the centre as a clear endorsement for regional development in the Sydney area.

"The Parramatta location fits in with our broader strategy for development in Western Sydney and is ideally located to access the burgeoning IT centre in West Ryde," explained spokesperson for the Department of Information and Technology, Aaron Ross.

However, Ross was quick to point out that the centre is to be the first of a series of similar projects. "There's no reason why other centres will not be build in other areas in the state."

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