Skills shortage needs fix

Not enough has been done to quash massive long-term job shortages in Australia's IT industry, argues Morgan & Banks director John Banks.

Banks' comments follow the latest release of the job placement agency's quarterly job index, which found that almost two-thirds of IT companies are planning to expand their work forces in the next three months.

Banks believes that the federal government, as well as universities and TAFE colleges, have done little to address a growing skills shortage.

"I don't think enough is being done to encourage people to retrain, and enough funds are being made available to retrain them," he said.

Banks said he supported the Howard Government's decision to "bring in 100,000 people from overseas" to fill employment gaps in the IT industry.

"We need to bring in people from overseas at this moment," he said.

However, he pointed out that this quick fix would do little to lower Australia's unemployment rate, which stands roughly at 6 per cent.

"It comes down to a skills gap. There are people who are unemployed who just don't have the right skills," he said.

"All of the courses at TAFEs and universities are filled. There aren't enough places."

Banks said both the government and the education system had previously displayed significant concerns over the IT industry's skills shortage, but those concerns had come to little fruition.

"There has been a lag. Three or four years ago we knew there would be an increase in demand in this area, and obviously universities and TAFEs have modified their courses. But the demand and the (IT employment) boom has just taken us all by surprise."

According to Morgan & Banks, the agency's latest quarterly Job Index was calculated as a result of interviews with 3277 employers in the IT industry, responsible for over 2.5 million employees.

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