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More people need to study IT: report

Sylvia Pennington (via SMH) | July 10, 2013
Australia needs to produce more technology professionals to avert a shortage in skills, according to a new report.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard drew the ire of ICT chiefs earlier this year after accusing the sector of widespread rorting of the scheme.

One senior networking specialist who asked not to be named told IT Pro employers continued to create skills shortages by advertising roles below market rates.

"That way no self-respecting ICT worker here will apply, unless they're desperate for work and the way is left clear for these employers to look off-shore for the 'skills' they need," he said.

"I was contacted by an agent only a week or so back with a role, perfectly suited, for which he represented me to the client, who came back to him a few days later saying they were looking at cheaper alternatives. Clearly the skills weren't an issue but the salary expectations were.

"Forgive me if I seem sceptical but it appears to me that skills shortages are not the real problem here, especially in my field."

Others fear a 457 crackdown will harm ICT firms which use the program appropriately.

Technical director of software consultancy Mexia Dean Robertson said his team of 11 included two workers on 457s and one who had attained permanent residency.

Rapid availability of skills was crucial for small firms which wanted to undertake larger projects but lacked the resources to spend years training their own staff, Robertson said.

Simon Kaplan, the director of NICTA's Queensland research laboratory, who heads NICTA's drive to increase ICT university enrolments around the country, said the issues were widely known and the report represented a consensus of views from academia, industry and government.


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