Worsening ICT skills shortages could slow economy

The skills shortage in the ICT sector will grow by almost 30 per cent over the next two years and inaction on the issue could slow economy, a report has warned.

The report, released by the Centre for Innovate Industry Economic Research, also forecasts the skills shortage in the sector will become more acute in the long term, reaching an estimated 25,000 jobs by 2020. 

The Australian Computer Society (ACS), which funded the report as part of its two-year ICT skills forecasting project, argued the current approach of addressing the skills shortfall with temporary migrant visas is inadequate to cope with future demands.

“We’ve known about the challenge for some time – what’s been lacking has been in-depth analysis and data to enable the development of appropriate solutions," ACS CEO Kim Denham said.

"Unfortunately, the most likely outcome on current settings shows continued and rapidly growing ICT skills shortages, which would inevitably translate into reduced economic performance for all Australian industry sectors.”

To ease the skills shortage, the ACS called for measures such as capping migration, increasing graduate levels by 12.5 per cent and minimising the “brain drain” of qualified ICT professionals.

ACS president Kumar Parakala said the industry is nearing the “tipping point” on the issue, and there is an urgent need for governments and industry to collaborate on policies to close the imminent skills gap.

“The report shows the consistent growth of the ICT industry and its role in the success of the economy," Mr Parakala said.

For a copy of the report see http://www.acs.org.au/attachments/ICTSkillsForecastingReportExecSummaryAug08.pdf

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