Editor's Note: Fair go!

Apart from incessant Y2K press bashings, the only other news making repeated headlines is the skills crunch dilemma. Indeed, bad news sells.

But it's the startling new round of industry figures that should really make us worried.

Albeit no two experts have come up with exactly the same figures of where Australia stands, you only have to look at the less dramatic statistics to see we're still in trouble.

As this month's feature story "Australia's Skills Shortage -- is the clever country clever enough?" on page 16 points out, the most widely quoted number for the shortfall could be as many as 200,000 skilled workers.

It's almost a travesty of justice when you really think about it. Here we are, living in one of the luckiest countries in the world and our problem isn't that we don't have enough get-up-and-go to work, but rather a lack of proper infrastructure to provide us the necessary skills-set to get the damn jobs!

Pretty shocking stuff when you take into account ACS President Prins Ralston claims that Australia's IT industries are capable of absorbing approximately 40,000 people a year.

In his own words:

"Computing courses don't get all the funding they require. People think computing can be taught relatively cheaply. They don't realise it is a laboratory type course and that the establishments need to keep up with the latest hardware and software."

Prins also claims that the problem isn't the lack of good teaching staff, but the training organisations that can't always retain the best because they can earn a heap more in industry.

It's catch-22 really.

However to be fair, this isn't just an Aussie phenomenon. According to analysts, the rest of the Western world is suffering pretty much the same skills crunch fate. The only difference they claim is, it's taking Australia a little longer to encounter the full impact of it all.

But on a positive note, I take my hat off to the IT&T Industry Skills Task Force. Recent news of them seeking financial assistance from industry players -- rather than waiting cap in hand for the Government to get its act together -- to develop an IT skills shortage program is a relief.

Hopefully, with enough cash injections they can kick-start their virtual IT&T education marketplace initiative and put people back in jobs.

Where they belong.

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More about Australian Computer SocietyIT&T EducationIT&T Industry Skills Task Force

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