Under Analysis: Keeping up!

IT training is an ongoing process, it will never finish. In fact it's essential if the growth of employment within Australia's IT industry intends to continueThe "Information Economy" has arrived and will have a dramatic impact on future spending on enabling technologies and solutions. Recent investments in the Internet are already paying dividends for Australia. However, existing spending on hardware, on infrastructure and on solutions will not be enough to keep us in the forefront of the world's information society.

The growth of employment in the information industries throughout Australia is highlighting the ongoing need for continuing education and training. At IDC's recent Directions ‘99 Conference in Sydney and Melbourne, the growth in IT employment was highlighted as was the shortage of technical skills being reported by many organisations as an inhibitor to their growth and development.

At the conference IDC highlighted that IT has almost doubled its share economy in the last four years. During the last two years employment in all occupations has increased by 2.6 per cent, employment of all professionals increased by 9.9 per cent but employment in IT and T has increased by 14.3 per cent. And yet, this increase has barely enabled Australia to maintain its ranking in the world IT stakes. Australia is presently ranked 8th in the world by IT spend and 7th in the world IT spend as a ratio to GDP.

If Australia is to improve its ranking, and if IT is to be a major driver of the Australian economy, we will have to do even better.

IT training is an ongoing process, it will never finish. Traditional training methods are part of the answer, and we can always benefit from improvements and new programs. However, as we move into Internet time the training process has to move and adapt. Online training, typically using Web technology, is acting as one way for training to reach more people and enable them to build their capabilities and skills in their own time. Just as electronic delivery of software is changing the way we buy and update our software, so electronic delivery of training has the capability of changing the "how", "when" and "where" we undertake the additional training which is necessary to improve our place in the Information Economy.

Online training has an in-built flexibility and "repeatability" which was uneconomic using traditional methods. It will be a key to leveraging Australia's existing capabilities and skills as we compete across the globe for customers in the Information Economy.

Graham Penn is general manager of research for IDC Australia

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