National ICT careers week kicks off

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National ICT careers week kicks off

Organisations and educational institutions across Australia will be hosting presentations and running workshops as part of this week's National ICT Careers Week.

The careers week was conceived by the ICT Industry Leadership Group, and is being managed by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

According to Ian Birks, CEO of the AIIA, the week of activities is being held to shine a spotlight on the value of a career in the ICT industry.

“Recent research has indicated that many influencers of career attractiveness - parents, careers advisors, teachers, principals - don’t have a clear understanding of what a career in ICT means, and therefore tend not to advise it as an option to young students,” he says.

“By focusing on some positive and varied industry events we are trying to paint a picture of how varied, exciting and interesting a career in our industry can be.”

Nearly 70 organisations are participating in the careers week. Together they will be hosting over 100 events.

Among the participants are the Australian National University, Charles Sturt University and UTS.

“The higher education sector in particular has been a very strong supporter and has got behind the concept with some innovative ideas,” Birks says.

For example, TAFE North Sydney is running a hands-on robotics workshop to promote its Digi-Girls program designed for girls in years 10-12, and Macquarie University is hosting a virtual reality showcase.

A number of commercial organisations, industry groups and academic associations are also involved, and at least one is running a program designed to lift the profile of the ICT industry amongst career influencers.

“The Victorian IT Teachers Association is running a major ICT & Careers Expo, which is an example of providing better quality information and advice to influencers and students,” Birks says.

Some government organisations are also hosting events, including the NSW, WA and NT State Governments and the Australian Government Information Management Office [AGIMO].

Other events include a forensic IT demonstration hosted by the NSW ACS, 'Young IT in the Pub' at the Duck's Nuts in Darwin, and a speech by scientist and frequent Triple J guest, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, at the University of South Australia.

A key theme of the careers week is high employment levels in the ICT sector. According to the AIIA, over 100,000 new ICT jobs have been created in the past decade, and employment of ICT professionals over that period has increased by 47.6 percent.

“The ICT job market remains very buoyant, particularly for those people who have a strong mix of business and ICT skills,” Birks says.

This remains particularly true in light of the skills shortage, although Birks believes the skills shortage is not a problem for the ICT sector alone.

“The skills shortage is not unique to our industry, [and] in the sense that it is ICT-specific, it is being ameliorated by heightened immigration numbers,” he says.

“[But] it won’t be a quick-fix turnaround. The only way to make it better is to address some of the underlying trend levers, and that is what ICT Careers Week is largely about.

“The future global competitiveness of the nation is severely jeopardised if we don’t find a way to fix this, so it is a really important issue.”

According to Birks, the AIIA is already interested in running another careers week next year.

More information about the careers week, including a complete list of events, can be found here.
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