After its recent metamorphosis, the IT&T Skills Exchange is preparing to tackle the IT skills shortage head on. The exchange grew out of the IT&T task force, an industry-based initiative which set out to identify ways to combat the widely publicised IT skills shortage in Australia.
The IT&T Skills Exchange is partially funded by both government and private sector investment.
The 18 companies directly involved with the IT&T Skills Exchange represent a large portion of the Australian economy with a combined turn over of $55 billion.
Private sector interests involved with the IT&T Skills Exchange include Alcatel, Deloitte Consulting, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Global Pacific, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Interim Technology, Lucent Technologies, NEC, Microsoft, National Australia Bank, Nortel, Novell, Oracle, Siemens, Sun Microsystems and Telstra.
IT&T Skills Exchange CEO Brian Donavan told ARN the Federal Government was very interested in the group's undertakings and had agreed to match industry investment dollar for dollar.
"We will embark on a study to better understand industry demand," he said. "Once we have identified some of the key areas, we will work brokering or facilitating course development across a range of educational facilities."
According to Donavan, the study is set to identify which skill sets are not being sufficiently covered by current education programs. Previous studies have revealed shortfalls in areas such as business development for IT startup operations.
"We are most interested in identifying new areas of expertise where there are no courses currently available," Donavan said. "Companies are looking for people with business skills; it is not all about getting technical people."
"At this stage the threats are very real, we only have a year or two to respond or it will be too late. IT skills signify literacy in today's economy."
Donavan describes industry participation in the IT&T Skills Exchange as derived from enlightened self-interest rather than selfless philanthropy.
"The industry recognises the need to cooperate and work together if the economy is to capture the opportunity for growth."