Dimension Data Learning Services chief executive, Mal Shaw, said the "skills revolution" was all about anything-as-a-service (XaaS). "In the old days we went out and installed the servers and software at the client and then provided support and maintenance," he said.
"Then many channel partners hosted the servers and software and provided a managed service. Today, end users have the choice of any number of incredibly powerful Cloud-based systems and software to meet their needs.
"The key thing to remember is that the end user still has the same risks they always had. Unless they are an IT company, they may not know which providers to choose and how to make them work together."
He said the end user still needed help in understanding their requirements, setting IT strategy, selecting providers, creating and managing service agreements, delivering projects and managing change.
"We believe our industry's best practice methodologies and frameworks provide the foundation to vendors, channel partners and end users to address these areas and the channel players who specialise in these best practices will be the ones who succeed."
The three main factors driving skills acquisition are technology change, the pursuit of best practice and professional development for IT, according to Shaw.
"Cloud computing and managed services bring the risk that fewer infrastructure specialists are required," he said. "This could be because the infrastructure is now at the service provider, and managed by them, or perhaps is now managed by an offshore outsourcer.
"Our view is that there is no better professional than an ICT Professional to manage an ICT service or project so this presents an opportunity for experienced infrastructure specialists to add process certifications to their skill set to mitigate this risk."
National plan needed
In the long term, the experts all agree there is a greater need for home grown talent. In the absence of government support for innovation, Australia's chief scientist, Ian Chubb, is calling on industry to support a national plan to boost the level of STEM graduates in Australia to help alleviate the shortages in the long term.
"The answer for Australia is not to turn our back on science but capitalise on the potential demonstrated here," he said. "This is a challenge that goes beyond the capacity of any individual firm, university, or government and I am calling for a national agenda and a national plan for science in Australia.
"We need a national consensus and a shared commitment to act on it and, in particular, we need leadership from industry.
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