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Associations are IT

WA’S IT professionals, graduates and university students are recognising the benefits of joining one of the State’s many IT associations.

In an increasingly competitive market, members are acknowledging that industry-recognised qualifications and networking is a vital part of their careers.

South East Metropolitan College of TAFE recently established Australia’s first mainland international IT association.

The Perth-based National Association of Communication Systems Engineers is a vendor-neutral organisation that offers members internationally recognised IT qualifications.

Founder Steve Moore said NACSE’s vendor-neutral status meant members developed a broader range of skills than if they were to join similar Cisco or Lucent programs.

“As a vendor-neutral association the organisation is sponsoring a comprehensive knowledge of computer networking as opposed to an IT culture with professionals qualified only in individual computer company product,” Mr Moore said.

RRC Solutions network engineer Frank Robson credits NASCE in helping him to retrain and find work after returning from work overseas.

“NASCE certainly helped me get a job,” he said.

“Through SEMC’s vendor-neutral IT program and Netprep networking course I had a broad range of skills and knowledge. But the network accreditation I got through NASCE was the final detail which clinched the job.”

The first NACSE was established in the US and the Perth chapter will give members internationally recognised network and systems qualifications, as well as access to global job prospects.

“If one of our NACSE graduates wants to go to the US to work they would have no problem at all,” Mr Moore said.

“There are a number of US companies sponsoring or giving preference to NACSE graduates. Even if they’re not going overseas, I think as NACSE becomes more widely known it will be something good to have on your CV – to say you are a member of an international association.”

TAFE will be involved in development of NACSE but the IT association plans to become autonomous, with funding derived from membership.

As professional associations expand their horizons to international markets, it seems the organisations catering to university students are becoming more sophisticated. IT and computer societies at the University of WA, Curtin University of Technology and Murdoch University still host LAN multiplayer gaming sessions and pizza nights, but also offer members job registries, work experience and networking opportunities.

Curtin University IT group Information Technology and Systems Student Association held Megabite 2001 last week at Technology Park in Bentley, a free IT expo featuring exhibits and seminars.

ITSSA president Maya Osmun said the idea for the expo came about after several ITSSA members attended last year’s IT expo at Burswood. Ms Osmun said she was disappointed that the event was focused on selling computer products. The seminars that were held during the expo weren’t open to students, she said.

Ms Osmun said she found some technology companies weren’t receptive to the idea of an expo pitched by students.

“The response has been very mixed. I won’t name any companies, but some were very sceptical and others thought it was a great idea but they weren’t willing to come on board, they wanted to wait until next year,” she said.

“Other companies have said they would give us money and all the backing that we need.”

Despite the reported IT skills shortage, Ms Osmun said the employment market for university graduates was extremely tough. Graduates needed to make contacts and complete work experience to make themselves more attractive to employers, she said.

“A lot of what we do in ITSSA is self motivated. The committee and the members want to get noticed and make contacts before we start to look for jobs,” Ms Osmun said.

“We want to do something within the university that we can put on our resume.”

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