Government urges collaboration on skill shortages

The federal government has urged the Australian Computer Society to collaborate with universities, the ICT industry and itself to address dwindling ICT skill shortages.

A government committee identified government security, business analysis, management and open source support as the most affected areas.

Special Minister of State Gary Nairn blamed falling unemployment and high wages for the shortages.

Higher wages and historically low unemployment over the past decade has produced a unique situation where there are more jobs than there are skilled workers, Nairn said.

ACS president Phillip Argy said this shift will cause employers to invest more in recruiting IT staff.

"Skills shortages will drive employers to be more creative; [this] highlights the increasing shift of power towards employees in the sector," he said.

An ICT taskforce, setup to find solutions to the shortages, has recommended the sector work with universities to promote the industry.

Argy agreed with the recommendation, saying collaboration will increase the attractiveness of the industry.

"We would like to see industry and the tertiary sector work closely; there needs to be targeted initiatives to attract young people," he said.

"[The taskforce] is also suggesting that we look for alternative sources of suitable people, such as high school leavers, as well as expanding recruitment models to include cadetships and traineeships," Nairn said, adding that importing skilled workers and forming partnerships are viable options.

Argy noted that skill importation is the last option, failing alternative measures.

"If there's no alternative and a key project would otherwise be stalled, then [importation is critical]. However, we want to see domestic retraining, cross training and upskilling avenues exhausted before the import option is considered," he said.

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