Last week I went to the QUT Dean's Industry Working Breakfast and again it was commented that the challenge for ICT in Australia is attracting students to study IT at uni.
Interestingly, the ABC news last week also featured an article, "Research shows IT worker shortage looms" that also raised the looming shortage of ICT professionals.
As someone responsible for recruitment for the Engineering team at Ephox this concerns me when I look to how I grow the team locally. As an Australian this also concerns me if Australia is to continue to compete on the world stage in ICT, something I believe we are well suited for.
The major problem as identified by QUT's Dean appears to be attracting new students into IT related degrees.
Dr Dobson says since 2002, the overall number of enrolments in the discipline has fallen by about 20 per cent1
So what can we do about it?
I know that universities in Brisbane are actively engaging with high-school students trying to encourage them to enroll, however they need our help. When they go out to talk to students and explain the benefits of IT as a profession, the main reaction they get is "well of course you'd say that, you want us to come to your Uni". I think this is partly due to Uni's being seen more as businesses (students represent revenue) than educators and that the vision of an IT professional is sometimes seen as just the guy that fixes PCs. We can help by engaging with High Schools and showing that there is still an active career path in ICT with a diverse range of opportunities.
It was recently suggested to me that the ICT industry needs to "market" our profession more, both to students and government. I think that if we don't, then we will find it harder to attract new staff, the costs associated with staff will increase and staff retention will become a larger issue.