IT Skills Shortage in Australia - How Serious Is it?
EARLIER THIS YEAR, WE REPORTED THAT AUSTRALIA IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING A SHORTAGE OF SKILLED IT RESOURCES. SIX MONTHS ON AND THE SITUATION HAS NOT IMPROVED. ACCORDING TO THE AUSTRALIAN COMPUTER SOCIETY, THE NUMBER OF STUDENT ENROLMENTS INTO IT COURSES HAS HALVED OVER THE PAST DECADE, WHILE PROJECTS REQUIRING A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF IT RESOURCES HAVE MORE THAN DOUBLED.
So why are less and less young Australians enrolling into IT courses?
According to Brett Raven, Solentive Software’s Principal Business Solutions Consultant, “The lack of interest in IT-related courses over the last ten years is largely due to the after effects of the Dot-Com Crash. After the crash, IT industry rates dropped, many employees were made redundant and the shine came off the industry. Students in high school at the time of the crash would have thought twice about pursuing a career in the industry which we are now feeling the effects of.”
“Students also perceive an offshoring threat that is also feeding into Australian salary devaluation fears,” continued Brett.
“There may also be a lack of government funding of technology research in Australia – Australian technology experts are still taking their knowledge offshore to countries that are more willing to provide the funding that they require to carry out their research projects,” added Brett.
Organisations that are finding it difficult to fill their IT resourcing gap are looking for resources offshore – not because they are able to cut costs due to the differences in salary (although this gap is closing), but because they believe that they have no other choice. What these organisations have not considered is the option of onshore resource augmentation.
“The struggle to find good, experienced IT people in Australia will continue for some time. Organisations need to find more creative ways to attract and retain quality IT staff, otherwise the combination of high turnover and shortage of skilled resources in the market will significantly impact business operations,” advised Brett.
“At the same time, rather than offshoring work, organisations should consider filling their resourcing needs through Australian-based IT companies for periods when they are required. These IT companies already possess the resources that are required and can offer organisations the flexibility to cope with peak periods of high resourcing demand,” concluded Brett.