The Federal Human Services portfolio is hiring 50 IT graduates this month, but that number falls well short of filling the government giant's annual need for 150 or more graduate IT recruits.
A spokesman for the agency confirmed that 80 graduates had been hired as part of the August intake for the portfolio, which includes Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency. Of those, 50 were taken on in IT roles including business analysts, programmers and infrastructure management.
At last week's SAS Forum in Sydney, federal deputy secretary for IT infrastructure at Human Services John Wadeson noted that the ability to fill graduate positions varied hugely depending on the state of the economy.
"We need 150 IT graduates a year. Two years ago, we went to the market, I think we got 7," he said.
The global financial crisis made recruitment much easier as other positions dried up.
"Last year, we got 200. All of a sudden, a job in the government looked a lot better. But I think it's a temporary reprieve."
The latest round of hires confirm that view, with Wadeson pointing the finger at a lack of students entering IT courses and a lack of courses to choose even if they are interested.
"Some TAFE colleges only run IT as part of a degree," he said. "We're just not getting enough students wanting to do a full IT degree. The universities point to the dotcom bust but we're a long way from that now. It's a very serious issue for us."
Official graduate targets for the next intake in February are yet to be determined, the Human Services spokesman said.