Experience still counts

While the Internet bubble may have supposedly burst that isn't likely to affect the unfulfilled demand for information technology specialists.

"It will not even be a blip on the screen," according to Gartner analyst Bruce McCabe, who along with other industry observers claims the market correction isn't likely to ease the task of fleshing out IT staff, (see page 8).

Meanwhile, the skills in greatest demand are in the areas of the Internet, client/server applications, multimedia, database management services and system software support, according to the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) Education and Training Manger, Michael Hedley.

The Internet and electronic commerce are set to be the primary areas of the shortage, which is expected to increase as more companies embrace the technologies. But at the end of the day, experience still counts.

Most positions require up to three years industry experience throwing up the anomaly that the growing demand cannot be met by new graduates. The skill mix required by companies is also radically changing and this "needs a joint response from industry and the education sector", Hedley said.

Despite this, the president of the Australian Computer Society, John Ridge, believes that Australia is tracking well against the UK and the US, but the US has become more aggressive in educational areas of IT.

"The US government has been aware of the IT skills shortage for quite some time and has made a concerted effort to address this by relaxing the Green Card requirements and increasing immigration quota numbers," Ridge said.

How short are we?

The local skill shortage, estimated between 30,000 to 40,000 vacant positions, may be a misnomer, according to Ridge, who believes there is a misunderstanding in regard to the translation of these figures.

According to Ridge, "both IT and non-IT professionals appear to interpret the figures to represent the number of job vacancies.

"In real terms there may be 10,000 to 15,000 positions as jobs are listed with multiple agencies that tilt the figures. Some agencies advertise ‘phantom' positions to attract candidate resumes," he said.

Conversely the AIIA believes there are more than 29,000 vacant positions with the skill shortage expected to reach 169,000 within the next five years.

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