Canberra allocates $4M to lure skilled workers

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Canberra allocates $4M to lure skilled workers

The ACT Government is set to announce its latest Budget, which will include a $4 million fund allocation to the Canberra Institute of Technology, signalling the Government’s first bid to proactively address the ICT skills shortage in the ageing State.

Treasurer Jon Stanhope said the budget initiatives would step up vocational training programs and address the escalating skills crisis in Canberra. According to Alan Hansell, associate at IBRS, the decision is a step in the right direction.

“I think the CIT initiative is commendable, the challenge in Canberra is attracting students,” he said.

Hansell claimed that luring students to Canberra is a difficult proposition as housing costs remain high and a perception of limited options in the nation’s capital sends students to larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

“The difficulty Canberra has is there isn’t the critical mass of larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne. So people feel that if they go to Canberra their options – if they want out – are very limited,” he explained. “If they join an agency and it doesn’t work out the only jobs in Canberra are with other government departments.

“That together with the housing problem is holding back attracting IT graduates to Canberra.”

The Live in Canberra campaign that aims to attract skilled workers to the State also received an $838,000 slice of government funding.

As organisations like TechnologyOne seek workers overseas, Derek Volker, Skills Commission chairman claimed many small businesses simply don’t have the resources to take up initiatives such as the 457 visa scheme for foreign workers.

Alternatively, Hansell argued the 457 visa scheme is beneficial to IT businesses and has led to more stability in service provider organisations and resulted in better services to clients. He believes the main hindrance to resellers is competing with vendors for skilled workers both here and overseas.

“A major software vendor was hiring and their resellers were telling them they were also trying to hire but competing for the same people and finding that they don’t have as deep pockets as the vendors. Service providers were complaining to the vendor that not only were they pinching the best people they were paying them higher salaries,” he said.

Hansell advised resellers to point out to skilled individuals that their business is more hands-on, less bureaucratic than vendors and more amenable to an individual’s needs.

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