Training body slams Feds' "BAA" plan

An industry body has slammed the government's lack of recognition of the growing importance of vocational training to the IT industry.

Leo van Neuren, executive officer for the Information Technology Telecommunication Industry Training Advisory Body (IT&TAB) said the sector has been "left out in the cold" in the federal government's Innovation Action Plan.

Funding of $151 million has been earmarked for universities to create 2000 places, with priority to be given to information and communications technology (ICT), mathematics and science.

"Vendor training, which is the industry-preferred way of training and is linked to vocational training, has not received a look-in," van Neuren said.

"I think there should be a balance put on the importance of tertiary and vocational training in assisting the IT skills shortage."

Prime Minister John Howard detailed the $2.9 billion, five-year, "Backing Australia's Ability" plan, in what is an election year, to boost Australia's research, development and innovation.

Initiatives to solve Australia's skills shortage and to streamline immigration arrangements for ICT professionals, were also announced.

The report states a legally-based Ministerial Direction will be issued to immigration decision makers to give immediate processing priority to ICT professional applying under the temporary business (long stay) visa and the skilled stream of the migration program.

"In the future, ICT specialists will make up an even larger proportion of the skilled workers entering Australia through the permanent migration and temporary entry programs," Howard said.

Rob Durie, executive director for the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) said the government has announced initiatives that will ease the immigration issues many Australian companies face when they recruit people with IT skills from overseas.

"The government has responded to our concerns that the information technology industry is a global industry."

Other changes to the immigration policy include another 2500 permanent visa places allocated to Australian-trained ICT professionals.

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