20/11/2007 - 22:00

Unis join forces to boost ICT numbers

20/11/2007 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

Western Australia’s four public universities have joined a national scholarship program to combat declining enrolment figures and an industry shortage of professionals in the information and communications technology field.

Unis join forces to boost ICT numbers

Western Australia’s four public universities have joined a national scholarship program to combat declining enrolment figures and an industry shortage of professionals in the information and communications technology field. 

Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia are part of a national consortium of 12 universities that have contributed to a $250,000 scholarship pool for ICT students, set up by the Australian Computer Society Foundation.

ACS Foundation WA board member and national treasurer, Bob Cross, said while the scholarship fund was fairly small, the program would raise the profile of the ICT skills shortage.

“It’s trying to use a small amount of money to make a really large lever,” he said.

Major IT players such as IBM, Microsoft and CSC Australia have contributed to the scholarship fund, which Mr Cross said would help attract other firms and increase the size of the pool in the future.

“This is something that should be attracting the attention of state and federal governments; it’s going to create a big problem,” he said.

“Graduates are now getting jobs quickly and easily. We’re going back to where we were in the late nineties, before the dot.com crash.”

During the past five years, the number of prospective university students in WA selecting ICT degrees as their first preference dropped by 60 per, from 981 to 391, according to data from the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre.

During the same period, enrolments in ICT degrees fell from 749 to 353, a drop of 53 per cent.

Australian Information Industry Association WA state chair Lou Martini said the decline in enrolments had significantly affected businesses.

“From an industry point of view, we’re at peak demand for IT staff and graduates,” he said.

“It’s top of mind as an issue for most of our members.”

Mr Martini said the industry was also starting to mature, which compounded the shortage of staff but created opportunities for graduates.

“For the first time, we have a few people retiring, so we’re losing people at the bottom and top,” he said.

“This means there is the opportunity to fast-track careers. The catch-22 of a few years ago, where companies required a degree plus two years’ experience, is gone.”

Mr Martini said ICT skills in project management, business analysis and application development were in particularly high demand.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options