There are growing concerns that there are not enough information and communication technology graduates to support Australia’s economic recovery, and we could be on the verge of a global ICT skills drought.

A Google search on recentlyrevealed more than 14,000ICT jobs on offer nationally.

Critical skills shortage

The United States is bracing for what is referred to as “the ICT skills cliff” and the negative implications for economic recovery there. The EU is also alarmed by predictions by the European Commission that there will be a shortfall of nearly one million ICT workers in Europe by 2015.

Professor Michael Blumenstein of Griffith University’s School for ICT is not surprised.

Based at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, he is contacted at least once a week by local business operators, hopeful of attracting Griffith ICT graduates. Sometimes students are snapped up even before they graduate.

ICT Honours student Dale Bowie has just completed an internship with IBM on the Gold Coast. The paid position was for three months over the summer holidays, but Dale is now continuing to work for IBM one day a week even though he has returned to uni.

“My role is to customise IBM’s security software specifically for the needs of their individual clients,” Dale said.

And that, according to Professor Blumenstein, underscores a more sinister imperative to bolster our ICT strengths.

Cyber security

“The ICT skills shortage must be addressed urgently in order to be prepared for the future of cyber-terrorism, Professor Blumenstein said.

“Many business operators leave themselves vulnerable to cyber attack because basic security provisions are being overlooked. The data that they store and maintain is the core of their business, and having it stolen, deleted or corrupted is a tragic outcome which can cripple the business indefinitely.”

Professor Blumenstein says it’s important to realise that ICT is no longer about sitting in a cubicle and programming.

“‘We are living in the age of the Digital Economy, and it is the design and sophisticated application of software and technology that is needed to grow businesses and allow them access to the global economy.

“It now requires sound business knowledge including being able to deal with clients, understanding business models and knowing how ICT can enhance a business’s bottom line.”

Career opportunities

Head of Griffith University’s School of ICT, Associate Professor Peter Bernus said ICT skills are vital in so very many areas it may not be immediately apparent just how critical this shortage is.

“The job market is craving employees with ICT skills across the globe,” Associate Professor Bernus said.

“Griffith’s Bachelor of Business Information Systems and Master of Enterprise Architecture are degrees that are preparing graduates to be technically savvy but also to have the business acumen to succeed in this age of the Digital Economy.

“These skills will put the world at their feet as the job opportunities for our ICT graduates are limitless.”