Qld Govt focuses on IT&T training

The Queensland Government has launched the state's first training advisory body focused exclusively on the IT&T industry.

Its creation was spurred by studies showing Queensland has Australia's lowest skills base but one of its fastest growing rate of IT employment opportunities.

Called Enabling Queensland, one of its tasks will be to convince IT&T companies that poaching staff from one another is not a long-term solution to the skills shortage dilemma.

An overwhelming number of employers recruit the skills they want by picking up staff from other organisations, according to a recent Federal Government study, the IT Skills Hub report.

Only 7 per cent of employers rated training or re-training of existing employees as their preferred method for filling positions, the study found.

"It really is disturbing that employers haven't seen the benefit of training their own staff," said Queensland Innovation and Information Economy Minister Paul Lucas.

And their tendency to prefer university graduates rather than making use of students from vocational training system such as TAFE colleges was "short-sighted", he said.

Reflecting employer demand patterns, the IT Skills Hub report predicts an Australia-wide oversupply of about 1000 TAFE graduates by 2002 compared with a shortfall of about 7000 university grads.

Lucas argued that employers are overlooking how well the strong business and practical focus of TAFE system graduates fits in with applying IT technologies to existing industries.

The stakes for Queensland are higher because the IT skills report predicts a 17 per cent hike in core IT&T employment in the state in 2002 compared with a 12 per cent for Australia as a whole.

The annual budget for Enabling Queensland is about $200,000, which has been supplemented by an $80,000 grant from the Department of Innovation and Information Economy. It will provide a mechanism for industry input into government policies on IT training; industry figures such as Hewlett-Packard Queensland general manager Doug Stevenson and John Puttick, financial software company GBST Holdings managing director, were heavily involved in its creation.

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