Vic govt pushes plan to boost ICT skills

Government seeks comment on draft ICT Workforce Development Plan

The Victorian government is seeking public feedback on a draft plan to increase the state's ICT skills base.

"Building a robust and highly-skilled ICT workforce is a challenging task that can only be achieved through joint action of government, industry and education and this collaborative approach flagged in the draft plan will continue to be the basis for ongoing work that will make sure Victoria remains ahead of the pack in ICT," Victoria's technology minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips, said in a statement.

"Cross-sector collaboration is key to developing the ICT sector in Victoria and employers in different industry sectors face recruitment and management challenges when it comes to ICT," the minister said.

"The challenge is that, on current trends, Australia will not meet increasing demand for ICT workers from local sources alone," the draft states.

"Of particular concern is that interest in studying ICT after secondary school remains low (particularly for women), and while the marginal increases in the most recently reported university course preferences and enrolments are encouraging, they will not affect graduate numbers for several years and are not enough to meet growing need."

To remedy this, the draft Victorian ICT Workforce Development Plan proposes a three-pronged approach. Firstly, it advocates measures to improve perceptions among students of ICT as a career, possibly establishing a Victorian committee to back the federal government's Digital Careers Program, backing the Go Girl, Go for IT event, and launch a public campaign in conjunction with industry to improve understanding of ICT in business.

The second component of the draft plan comprises measures to increase SMEs engagement with ICT. "Improving the capability of Victorian SMEs to understand and integrate ICT is critical to obtaining maximum benefit from digital innovation and requires more than a boost to technical proficiency. The most effective organisations include ICT with core operational and competitive strategies, led by senior management," the draft states. Possible actions could include establishing an educational program for business leaders.

The third component is improving the alignment between industry and ICT training providers to better prepare graduates for the workplace, including through integrating ICT content into non-IT disciplines such as business studies and developing a graduate ICT employment program for the Victorian public service.

The Australian Computer Society welcomed the release of the draft. "With over 150,000 ICT professionals working in Victoria and given the rapidly changing nature of ICT, a focus on ICT skills is needed across all sectors of our economy, particularly across SMEs," the chair of the organisation's Victorian branch, Michelle Beveridge, said.

Public consultation on the draft is open until 12 February. The draft is available online.

The Victorian government yesterday issued a draft update to the state's ICT plan.

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