IT professionals give students the facts

A Victorian initiative aimed at attracting secondary school leavers to careers in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is inviting students to a series of interactive sessions with recent graduates and industry figures.

Launched last Thursday in the Eastern Melbourne suburb of Box Hill, the campaign, titled "Upload Your Future", incorporates another 11 sessions to be held at locations across metropolitan and regional Victoria.

Representatives from companies such as Cisco, Telstra, Panduit, Computershare, Microsoft, Master Foods and IBM will be present at the events. Speakers from education providers will also be available for any questions.

Upload Your Future has been organized by an industry group that includes representatives from the technology sector, the Victorian government, all nine Victorian universities and several TAFEs.

The campaign's organizers hope that each of the sessions will provide students and their parents with the opportunity to learn about technology courses and careers from those already in the industry.

"The outcome we're looking for at this stage," said Rebecca Spiteri, spokesperson for the Victorian government, "is a step towards stemming declining enrolments in ICT, with ideally an increase in the number of students preferencing tertiary study in ICT for 2007."

According to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' July 2006 Vacancy Report, ICT skills are now in high demand across the country. The industry is now concerned that university and TAFE enrolments are not reflecting the high demand for ICT graduates in the workforce.

"Research suggests that misconceptions about the ICT industry, including low awareness about the number of jobs and diversity of work available to people with these skills, may be leading students otherwise interested in ICT to choose other options for tertiary study," Spiteri said.

"These events are designed to help students get a real sense of what course and career options are available in ICT, demystifying the sector and providing them with the facts to make well thought out decisions about their futures."

The next event to be held in Melbourne will be at Victoria University on August 7.

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