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Information Technology industry needs new students


9 December 2003
Australia could be faced with a serious shortage of university graduates skilled in the Information Technology field if the current decline in new students interested in this area is not addressed.

That is the warning from university and industry representatives, who met at Southern Cross University’s (SCU) Coffs Harbour campus this week.

Professor San Murugesan, head of SCU’s School of Multimedia and Information Technology which hosted the meeting, said the Heads of IT departments from eight universities in NSW and ACT, and representatives from TAFE, the Australian Computer Society and the Australian Information Industry Association, attended the meeting.

Professor Murugesan said the focus of the meeting was to examine the long-term implications of the current decline in interest in computing and Information Technology among high school leavers and to look at ways of encouraging students to enrol in this area.

Australian Computer Society chief executive officer, Mr Dennis Furini, said while the Information Technology industry had been through a downturn, there were signs the industry was now starting to pick up.

“We all believe that if the short-term problems drive the students away then we will have a skills shortage in a few years time. We need to look at ways of encouraging people back into the industry,” Mr Furini said.

“There’s hardly an industry that’s not underpinned by Information Technology. All those industries will be looking for people to support the new technology.”

Mr Furini said it was important high school students were aware of the career opportunities in the Information Technology field. He said they also needed to attract more women into the IT field.

The chair of the Heads of IT schools in universities in NSW and ACT, Associate Dean (Education)in the Faculty of Information Technology at the University of Technology Sydney, Associate Professor David Wilson, said there was a general feeling that the industry was turning around and they needed to act now to produce the graduates who would be needed in four years time.

Professor Wilson said they planned to conduct a survey early next year targeting incoming university graduates and Year 12 students to understand how the students made decisions on their higher studies, and to determine ways of encouraging more students into the IT field.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.