A little over a month ago, Nigel Dalton, CIO at the REA Group and blogger, popped out a post titled “Australia is training more personal trainers than IT professionals – really?” That blog post has since been reported by another IT news outlet. There’s nothing wrong with basing a news story on a blog post. Except when the post …
Perhaps not now,
But look to the future.
In New Zealand, approx 50% of the teachers in training are studying physical/sports education etc. I would suspect the numbers are pretty similar for Oz.
Why does this happen? Well it is a cool way for sporty kids to get a sports-oriented university education (well that and sports medicine - which is much more effort, or sports management). Unfortunately reality sets in when they get to the job market and find that only 5% or so of teaching posts are for PE teachers etc.
How many teachers in training have an IT focus?
Re: Perhaps not now,
Here in NSW we have so many PE trained staff, nearly every school has a PE trained teacher temping in another faculty, most of the causals that replace me when I am off for whatever reason are either art or PE (very very few IST, IPT, SDD qualified casuals in our region Hunter/Central Coast ). One casual said that if every currently employed PE teacher were to resign tomorrow, there would still be 1.5-2 teachers for every vacant position. It is a similar story in other states as well.
Anyhoo, getting back to THIS analysis, there are 2 other strands that are ignored in this analysis is the private RTO's - but these cater mainly for foreign students, and at school we also offer the VET qualification of a cert iii in Information, Digital Media and Technology. If students are keen enough, and region has it on its scope they can get a partial cert iv as part of the HSC.
This needs to be viewed in the context of the debate (actually, that's glorifying it) here over skilled worker visas. The speech Mr Dalton was so taken with is another piece in the current myth-building effort.
Re: Politically motivated
Perhaps, but so is the current bigger business approach of dumbing down IT tasks into Taylorism derived monkey see, monkey do processes that are easily passed off overseas or to cheap low skilled staff. I suggest that destroying job interest and skill levels required in the name that trojan horse for PHB control, ITIL, is a matter of public policy and interest. Why would anyone study for a job that is dull, getting duller and may vanish at a foreign corporate droids whim ?
Much of the current myth making floating around Oz skills building seems to be focussed on creating a shortage to enable cheap labour to be imported or jobs exported so foreign corporations can avoid the cost of training staff. Think of it as another form of cost reduction, like tax minimisation. All legal, and legal loopholes are supplied by overly complex legislation and sovereignty destroying multinational agreements. I doubt the majority of pollies, no matter how well meaning, can get their heads around multi-ream obtuse legal prose.to understand exactly what they are voting for or against. Since corporates are allowed to make donations to the political parties, no wonder training, jobs and national interest do not get discussed in a non-partisan way.
I digress. Given our rising obesity rates, the idea of high numbers of personal trainers being created is so ironic. BTW, given his surprisingly coherent posts lately, I would love to hear amanfromars comment on this :-)
I'm favourable to the overall thrust of the article (don't just repeat numbers you heard off some bloke at the pub) but...:
- why discount entirely the non-Australian citizen IT university students? A great number of them will be available to local employers during and after their course either through followon visas or because they already have a long term visa status which means they are available to local employers.
- focussing on graduates alone might be misleading, but I don't see why plenty of personal training students wouldn't also be people who are already in the fitness industry looking to upgrade their skills or are returning to work
- the large number of foreign students enrolled in Australian IT courses might be a vote of confidence in the teaching, but it might also be partially connected with "flexible" learning practices (that leaves you time to work or do other stuff), the fact that it's taught in English (so students are really getting a language and technical experience together), the fact that there's a not-terrible pathway to permanent residence (which is nice because Australia is a nice place) or any number of other factors. And that's not a criticism of people who choose or give courses playing to those strengths, by any means. But to say "there are X students, that proves our teaching is awesome" is a bit simplistic.
I chose to discount overseas students in order to test Dalton's assertions under the most favorable possible circumstances (for Dalton).
But I agree - anecdotally plenty of overseas students stay on, or return.
On the matter of "there are X students, that proves our teaching is awesome", I wasn't saying our teaching is awesome. But it is good enough to attract 18,000 people to spend at least a year here and pay tuition of a few tens thousands a year. If we assume 18,000 students each pay $20k a year, IT education is a $360m a year industry. Which is a rather nice sum.
Dear Mr Sharwood
Well, that's certainly fair enough to restrict the counting to domestic students, so thank you for the clarification.
But on the second item: well, you said now "I wasn't saying our teaching is awesome" but in the original article, you wrote "That’s surely a vote of confidence in the quality of IT teaching here". My point (such as it is...) is just that there are many reasons why foreign students come to Australia to study IT, and the quality of IT teaching is (an important) one of those. As a counterfactual: how do we know more students wouldn't be here if the teaching were better? In other words, we can't come to any real conclusion about the quality of IT teaching just by looking at enrolment numbers or fees earned.
Of course, this assumes that 1 IT Graduate = 1 IT Professional.
I've seen a lot of unprofessional IT graduates...
Well done, El Reg
It's good to see a news outlet trying to analyse the dodgy statistics promoted by politicians/CEOs/etc with their own agenda.
Also, a quick analysis of the other side of the equation ... with only 6-7k full time jobs in the "personal trainer" industry, it would suggest that a large proportion of those 10,000 graduates aren't going to get anything other than casual work. It may imply either a really high turnover, or maybe some people are just training so they can run lunchtime yoga classes, and in fact have other day jobs.
"Australia is training more personal trainers than IT professionals"
All "personal trainers" are trained (like dogs). They can't think for themselves.
Most "IT professionals" are also trained like dogs, and similarly can't think for themselves.
Seeing as "all" > "most" ... Do the math(s). At least some "IT professionals" might actually have a few clues, regardless of the numbers suckered into either line of work ;-)
not sure why anyone would care how many people are taking IT related degrees. It's not like anyone taking them will get employed unless they're willing to move to India, China or the Philippines. Professional trainers on the other hand are beautiful to look at and that makes us all feel better, even if we have intention of hiring one because we're unemployed IT workers..
Actually given the current job prospects in most western countries, and purely from a selfish point of view, it would actually be a good thing if no more students took IT related degrees or certifications at all. I hate competing with people who know nearly as much as me in an interview.. it means you have to be polite and sometimes even not wear sandals.