Complaints aside, ICT graduates in demand, say teachers

While ICT workers rail against employers offshoring work and using overseas staff on 457 visas for destroying opportunities in the sector, academics insist their graduates are finding jobs as easily as ever.

While ICT workers rail against employers offshoring work and using overseas staff on 457 visas for destroying opportunities in the sector, academics insist their graduates are finding jobs as easily as ever.

Leon Sterling, dean of the ICT faculty at Swinburne University and head of the Australian Council of Deans of ICT, said debate about the issue was "distorted by a small minority of loud voices".

Professor Sterling said outsourcing did not spell bad news for new starters but instead led to the creation of additional opportunities.

"Far from removing jobs, there are more jobs," he said. "People may be nervous, as a result of getting the message that there are no jobs in ICT, but it's not true."

His comments follow the release last week of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency's ICT Workforce Study, which called for more young people to be funnelled into the sector to avoid a major skills shortage.

AWPA chief executive Robin Shreeve said use of more overseas workers on 457 visas was likely if the sector did not receive a big influx of new blood. The number of ICT workers holding 457 visas rose from 5327 to 9271 in the past two years. The number of tertiary ICT graduates dropped from 9093 in 2003 to 4547 in 2012, despite concerted efforts by academia and industry bodies to talk up the advantages of a technology career to school leavers.

About 90 per cent of Swinburne's 2012 graduates had found employment in the sector, Professor Sterling said.

It's a similar story at the University of Queensland, according to Paul Strooper, the head of the IT and electrical engineering school.

"There will always be offshoring of jobs but they're not the sort of jobs we train people for here," Professor Strooper said. Most UQ students had jobs before graduation, he said, with companies wanting to employ graduates often arriving too late.

Read the full story at

theage.com.au/it-pro

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