Com Tech Education Services is out to bolster the company's image in the ACT, teaming up with the ACT's Department of Education and Community Services to award eight Year 12 students with $88,000 worth of scholarships.
The three-month scholarships were for Com Tech's CTES NetWORK program, designed to provide candidates with comprehensive industry training in A+ and MCP certifications and a guaranteed job in the IT industry.
Awarded last week by Bill Stefaniak, ACT Minister for Education, the scholarships are worth $11,000 to each student and include all instructor-led training, course materials and meals during tuition.
It is the second year Com Tech has offered the scholarships and Martin Hale, international business development manager of Com Tech Education Services, claims the program was developed to increase the number of high school students entering the IT industry, while promoting the company's services in the ACT.
"There is no shortage of unskilled people in the industry. If you put an ad in the paper for an unskilled IT support person you'd have 150 applicants or more. That said, there is definitely an experience shortage. There aren't enough people [in the industry] with at least 12 months experience," claims Hale.
Com Tech Education judged applicants on three criteria: motivation and commitment to the industry, passion for computing and the ability to work with people. Yet Hale concedes students are tested on their computer skills as part of the scholarship application.
While Com Tech is offering a similar scholarship program in New Zealand, it targeted the ACT due to the lack of qualified entry-level IT professionals in the area.
"We looked at Morgan & Banks research that analyses quarterly [IT placement] trends, and there were some issues in Canberra, no two ways about it. There is a lot of outsourcing in Canberra which doesn't provide a lot of opportunity [for entry-level positions], unless you're a contractor, of course."
While a number of high school students go through to university to pursue a career in IT, Hale claims the students achieve 25 per cent of a Bachelor of Computing (Network Technologies) Degree as part of the scholarship.
Minister Stefaniak also recognised the industry-wide shortage of experienced IT professionals at the presentation ceremony, claiming the "scholarship grant is a great way to help address the increasing IT skills shortage in Australia".
The successful students were Daniel Zimmer, Carl Knox, Gabriel Morosi, Peter Dearing, Melissa Walters, Andrew Murphy, James Davis and Martin Crncevic.