Greater involvement in technology education by industry and government are needed to address Australia’s ICT skills shortage, according to the Australian Council of Deans of ICT (ACDICT).
An action plan released by ACDICT said it is not solely educators’ responsibility to change many people’s negative perception of the ICT profession.
“Collegial and cooperative efforts between organisations, industry and government are essential if sustainable solutions to the ICT skills shortage are to be implemented,” said ACDICT president Leon Sterling.
ACDICT pointed to other successful collaborations between industry and educators, including National ICT Careers Week, Group X National by National ICT Australia (NICTA) and The Big Day In by the Australian Computer Society Foundation.
“If more people recognised that education is not solely down to schools or universities, and were prepared to invest in sustainable lifelong domestic education processes, the long term future of the Australian ICT industry would be guaranteed.”
The industry cannot complain there are not enough skilled students coming out of university if it’s not willing to do anything to improve the situation, Sterling said.
“To maximise our domestic ICT capability and address the skills shortage for the long term, industry needs to be committed to and to invest more in the education process before and after the moment of graduation.”
ACDICT acknowledged that universities and TAFEs have a responsibility, too, and the group said it will identify and share best practices employed in the sector to support the professional development of ICT teachers.
However, negative perceptions are formed in a much wider time frame than a student’s university years, said Sterling. “Tertiary education is such a short period in a person’s working life and that the rapidly evolving discipline of ICT requires a concerted team effort by all stakeholders during and post secondary and tertiary education.”
The ICT community is up against a wide perception that “ICT is for geeks, the jobs are boring and unsuitable for females,” ACDICT said.
However, Sterling dismissed that view. “Innovation, creativity, making new connections between technology, people and ideas is at the heart of the ICT industry which spans all kinds of jobs and is central to the functioning of most services and industries.”
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