ICT industry welcomes the government's new apprenticeship program

Up to 60 jobs made available

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) today announced its support for the Federal Government's $15 million Information and Communications Technology (ICT) apprenticeship program.

The apprenticeship program is in addition to a four year Australian Public Service (APS) program that will deliver up to 60 jobs for young people within government agencies.

This program was launched by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner.

ACS president, Kumar Parakala, said maintaining Australia's global competitive position will depend on the high levels of ICT awareness and knowledge in the general population - people taking on ICT careers and understanding ICT as part of their regular career skills.

"The ACS has long advocated that we would like to see the government, industry and the tertiary sectors work more closely together to develop initiatives to attract young people into an ICT career," Parakala said adding that the APS program is a positive step in the right direction.

This is because it matches the skills being developed for those in government.

"There is no easy quick fix to address the skills issue, but there are long-term solutions that require commitment, creative ideas and leadership," Parakala said.

"Greater attention needs to be focused on studying ICT at school level, as students who do not study ICT at school are less inclined to study ICT at university."

Parakala said the ACS Foundation is working with industry and universities to understand the job opportunities that are currently in demand and those that will be in demand in 2012.

"This has involved increased resources are devoted to forecasting skilled labour force requirements to assist in a planning process that will ensure those skills are available when needed," he added.

One of the biggest apprenticeship training programs currently underway in Australia was launched last year by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and is part of the $215 million Skilling Australia's Defence Industry (SADI) program.

The ADF is struggling with a serious ICT skills shortage and the $215 million investment in training and support will be spread over the next decade.

The department will need 12,000 new employees during this time with 25 percent coming from an engineering background.

Last year the department spent more than $300 million on research and development to nurture innovation, this will continue and be supported by a closer working relationship with universities and industry.

A joint defence-industry training taskforce is being established to pool resources with the private sector.

Moreover, the ADF will invest $101.3 million redeveloping its School of Signals in Victoria which is used to train staff in communications and information systems.

The massive upgrade is set to begin later this month.