Skill shortage: IT training increase needed
IT training needs to increase to fill skill shortage
There is an average of 4000 new Information Technology (IT) positions created every year in New Zealand. But with only 1300 degree or postgraduate diploma graduates entering the field each year, New Zealand is facing a serious skills shortage. According to the latest Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA) statistics, only 64% of advertised IT positions are filled, with an average of 1.9 suitable applicants per position.
This disparity between graduates and available roles has been identified as a major barrier to growth in the IT industry, which is forecast to be worth over $5billion. In 2006, 51% of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) employers identified that the biggest barrier to growth was the ability to attract and/or retain qualified and/or experienced staff. According to the Labour Cost Index (LCI), in 2005 IT professionals earned an average hourly rate of $37.62, approximately $4.00 more an hour than all other professionals.
Ian Hunter, Programme Manager for Information Technology at WelTec, believes that there is not enough information available to the general public about what IT actually involves. “It is not just about fixing computers and staring at monitors all day. IT is responsible for the World Wide Web, online social networks like Facebook and YouTube and the instantaneous exchange of information that we have become accustomed to. It was IT students who invented Google – the most commonly used website in the world.
“But it is not just the creation of the internet and websites that makes IT so fascinating. Banks and financial institutes all over the world employ IT professionals to hack into their networks and internet banking services in an attempt to find cracks and loopholes that may compromise their security,” says Mr Hunter. “We offer a Graduate Diploma in Information Assurance and Security which looks at just this.”
To encourage students to enter the field and stay in it, WelTec has a range of technology cadetships available to IT students. These cadetships are supported by and run in conjunction with industry. One company involved with the cadetships is Fronde, who are responsible for the technology around the ‘TXT-a-Park™’ system, Sentinel’s Customer Relationship Management system and Kiwibank’s three-tiered mobile banking solution – TxTBank™, BankAlert™ and SmartBank™. Last year Fronde offered a $5000.00 academic scholarship and a 12-week paid summer internship to each successful applicant.
Mr Hunter says that the Fronde cadetship is just an example of one of the tools WelTec is using to try and attract younger people into IT. “With the baby boomers coming up to retirement, it is important for us, as an industry, to attract young, innovative people.”
Along with WelTec’s IT programmes, which range from certificate to degree and graduate diploma level, WelTec is an authorised Prometric and Pearson Vue testing centre, supporting industry professionals to gain vital internationally recognised certifications.