IT training to become a priority

The Australian economy will suffer the consequences if the local IT industry can't fill the demand for job vacancies, according to Oracle's Australasian managing director Phil Kiely.

Speaking at the launch of a pilot training program to tackle the skills shortage in the local IT industry, Kiely said the only solution to the problem was in educating and retraining the existing employed and unemployed workforce.

The program, RestartIT, offers unemployed people vocational education, retraining and work experience in the IT industry in an aim to help fill the 30,000-plus IT positions available in Australia this financial year.

Kiely said Oracle is determined to overcome the skills shortage crisis in the Australian IT industry by pursuing long-term, cost-effective solutions.

He said training programs could solve 30 per cent of the Australian IT industry's employment shortfall.

"While there is now a shortage of 30,000 skilled individuals in IT&T alone, that is nothing compared to the shortfall of 180,000 individuals we will suffer in five years time if nothing is done now," Kiely said.

"The skills shortage is more than just an industry crisis, it is an economic crisis that has the potential to retard the Australian economy for decades."

Kiely said the program, developed by Oracle in consultation with the non-profit training organisation, Options, and the NSW Department of Education and Training, has given 10 unemployed Australians the chance to make a career in the IT industry.

After 12 months of intensive training at Oracle's Sydney offices, the 10 are expected to be offered positions as associate technical analysts with Oracle and a number of their customers.

Meanwhile, Cliff Smith, managing director of Novell Australia and New Zealand, said it was "very important" the whole IT market became involved in programs like RestartIT.

"It is up to corporations to realise the importance of training and education," Smith said.

"In fact it is up to us to actually drive training in the industry. It is for our own advantage, and for the advantage of the industry," Smith said.

A recent survey by the IT&T Skills Task Force found that industry demand for employees is growing at about nine per cent a year, and that at least this level of growth would continue for the next five years.