Training board chief calls for e-skills exchange: Estimates 30,000 jobs over next five years will need to be filled

The IT&T industry needs to use its own technology to create an interactive online information exchange, a gateway that links the industry and the public with computer training providers.

Phil Kiely, IT&T Industry Training Advisory Board (ITAB) chair and regional managing director of Oracle, said: "The online marketplace and the infrastructure behind it would help to break down barriers that currently exist between the industry and [IT&T] providers. It would also provide a forum for the exchange of information and ideas."

Kiely, speaking at the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) Conference 2000 last week, said there was insufficient focus at present on letting the IT&T industry and the general public know where the jobs are, who to contact and what sort of courses are available.

"Business demand for IT&T solutions is far outstripping the capability of the industry to respond, while new skills are required to keep pace with developments in technology," Kiely said.

He estimates that at least 30,000 jobs will need to be filled within the IT&T industry over the next five years and that the lack of suitably qualified IT&T people is having an impact across all industries.

"Australian companies are in danger of being left behind in the electronic information age, of not having the capacity to compete in a global marketplace that is rapidly embracing online business solutions."

He said a better balance is needed between entry level and skills upgrade courses in universities and Technical and Further Education colleges, which supply most IT&T professionals.

"The current VET [vocational education and training] system is not equipped to cope, and the IT&T industry has become frustrated with aspects of it," Kiely said, adding that "one of the shortcomings of the VET system is the fact the universities, a major supplier of recruits to this industry, operate outside the system".

A greater emphasis is also required on providing top-up training, Kiely said.

"Training packages are great in principle, but their development and implementation is too slow."

Kiely suggests that from where the IT&T industry stands, it is time for the "VET system to focus on how and where it fits into the broader industry picture".

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