The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is pushing for ICT skills to be placed on the political agenda in the lead up to this year’s federal election, with a strong focus on schools.
It has issued a manifesto to the major parties in the hope that whichever forms government will address some of the major challenges the ACS sees obstructing the development of Australia’s digital industry.
ACS President Nick Tate told iTnews the process of fixing the ICT skills shortage needed to begin well before students reached university.
“It is not clear that the school curriculum is encouraging young people to pursue an ICT career. In fact in some cases it may be discouraging it.
“Some of the courses are out of date and not terribly useful when a student moves on to university level study,” he said.
The ACS has asked the future government to consider “significant reform” of the way ICT is taught as part of the development of a national curriculum. Even beyond that, Tate said, our leaders needed to start thinking about how to get skilled ICT teachers into primary and high schools.
“It is already incredibly difficult to get people into ICT roles. In schools we are looking for people with ICT qualifications and teaching qualifications as well.
“One of the ways could be to have people with ICT skills working alongside teachers. These might be people who have reached a point in their career that they are looking to give something back,” he suggested.
Transparency and industry engagement on the part of governments dominates the remainder of the ACS wish list.
While Tate acknowledged the work of the Australian Government Information Management Office in the area of open data, he said he would like to see more agencies get on board.
“The mechanism to make this data available is already there,” he said. “We are aiming our recommendation more generally at government, including state governments who haven’t yet established an open data scheme, and local government.”
Other recommendations include the establishment of an ICT Ministerial Advisory Council to bring together industry and government and the collection of ICT-related data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.