This year is shaping up as a very exciting time for the ACS. We began the new millennium on a high with our entry into the Australian Council of Professions (ACP) and this initiative is already reaping benefits through closer links with other professional bodies, industry groups and employers.
Our admission to the ACP marks the culmination of a great deal of hard work and planning. The recognition of IT as a profession, and the ACS as the peak body representing that profession, is just one more reason why people should join the ACS.
In fact, we've seen a significant increase in member subscriptions both late last year and early this year (January's member applications are up by 65 per cent over this time last year), which means both our mem-bers and the rest of the IT industry appreciate the enhanced status our ACP accreditation provides.
For the industry, 2000 brings both new and existing challenges. The IT skills shortagecontinues to dog us and various studies are being conducted to establish a clearer picture of exactly what skills are most needed and where.
It is essential that during 2000 Australia takes decisive and comprehensive steps to address the current skills shortfall. This will require a range of both short- and long-term initiatives, not only by the industry and the profession, but also by governments and business leaders committed to Australia's long-term growth and prosperity.
Already we are seeing outcomes from the IT&T Industry Training and Advisory Board and the AIIA Education and Training Forum. In addition, many of the industry's leading software and hardware vendors are offering vocational training aimed at boosting the number of people with product-specific IT skills.
We need government funding and direction to substantially increase the number of IT graduates being produced by our universities and TAFE Institutes in order to ensure we have a reliable supply of IT professionals to meet our needs well into the future.
We need to encourage organisations to offer traineeships in order to ensure that our graduates have the work experience they will need in order to get the employment opportunities they deserve.
We should stop worrying about "brain drains" and people being trained and then leaving and going overseas. In fact we should encourage it!!! We should be taking a broader and higher level view and consider what will ultimately be best for our country and its people.
Another area requiring attention is the gender imbalance that currently exists within the industry. We stand to benefit substantially if we can tap the resource of women who currently don't consider entering the IT&T profession, much as other professions like law and accounting have done.
At the same time, steps must be taken to ensure that all Australians enjoy affordable and equitable access to the Internet, since the success or failure of e-commerce in Australia will depend on the degree to which the business community and individual users take advantage of these emerging technologies.
I welcome any suggestions you might have about where the ACS should deploy its resources and how we can play an even more effective role within the Australian IT industry, as well as feedback on the products and services we provide to members.
Feel free to contact me by phone (02) 9223 9499 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
John Ridge is president of the ACS