Demand for IT workers to surge over the next 3 years

AN EXTRA 33,200 workers will be needed in Australia's information technology sector in just three years, a major study of the workforce needs of the industry has found.

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency released its ICT workforce study 2013 on Tuesday, revealing a determined effort would be needed to develop the IT skills needed to fill the gaps.

It found the nation's total ICT workforce would grow 7.1% between now and 2016-17, but the expansion was "threatened by a projected shortage of skilled people".

Since 2007-08, Department of Immigration figures show the IT industry has been in the top five skills under immigration programs, with the skills the third only to cooks and accountants in 2011-12.

AWPA chief executive Robin Shreeve said domestic supply of IT professionals had not kept with demand, and it would need to change "if we are to move confidently into the digital economy".

"The challenge for industry, education providers and governments is to help foster an environment where careers in ICT are more attractive and where investment in ICT skills will be enhanced," he said.

Despite encouraging enrolment trends in higher education and VET courses, there remained high drop-out rates and some graduates had trouble finding ICT jobs.

The report showed about 68% of IT positions were held by people aged 25 to 44 years old, with limited entry level positions and many employers complaining graduates did not have the "necessary business and communication skills to succeed".

Women held less than 20% of IT position in most occupations and low numbers of mature-aged workers were limiting the supply of workers to the industry.

The industry also suffered from negative perceptions of male-dominated, desk-bound, repetitive, isolating jobs, despite the emergence of creative, flexible careers.

Mr Shreeve said the influence of the industry would be felt in every other business sector, as an "enabler of innovation".

He said if the nation was to maximise the potential of the National Broadband Network, more people needed to be motivated to engage in the IT industry throughout their careers.

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