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back to article FACE IT: attempts to get Oz kids into IT jobs are FAILING

National ICT Australia (NICTA) this week announced that GroupX, a Queensland-derived effort to get more kids into information and communications technology careers in Australia, will go national and run for four years. GroupX gets out into schools and targets students with what newly-appointed CEO Karsten Schulz says are “ …

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Yet another industry group

Another misguided industry effort. From an employee standpoint the kids need to work for Chinese wages, be as vulnerable as Indian's on 457 visas, have all the knowledge of the state trained East Europeans and preferably be female. From a government standpoint the kids need to be entrepreneurs, pay for their own training preferably with debt and be prepared to front load their tax obligations. From and educationalist standpoint; just shut up and take your ADHD medication while I work out what colour skirt matches my shoes.

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Mushroom

"For as long as I've been doing this - 18 years - Australia's IT industry has complained it can't get enough workers."

Doing what for 18yrs ? Living ? No that can't be it. Even an 18yr old is smart enough to know that industry complaining about lack of workers is shorthand for 'lack of workers willing to work for what we're prepared to pay'.

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Shennanigans, I call Shennanigans

For the 18 years Ive been working in the IT industry there has always been an oversupply of potential employees, always got to watch your back because someone else wants your job.

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They want what does not exist

All the ads I see are for recruiters who always want a minimum of five years experience in technologies that have not even been out that long. Also they will never tell you they are all advertising for the same role so it is pointless to apply more than once.

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Meh

Coding is dull

Come on, let's admit it.

To a teen (heck, to a forty-something) coding appears to be just about the most boring job since bakeries stopped wanting more folk who could push four dough-balls together so that, when baked, they turned out as four joined rolls (true story).

It might pay well (though it probably won't - not before you die of boredom).

It requires you be in a constant state of learning (that's right ... doing the very thing you've been trying to get out of doing for the vast majority of your schooling)

It is rarely sexy - For every coder working on GTAv - or something similar - there's another 50 working on the latest competitior to MYOB.

And even if you are employed by Rockstar, you're only going to be disappointed when you discover coding for GTAv is just as dull as for Sharepoint Server.

What was the last TV series - or movie - that you saw, about the daily life of lawyers? Or reporters? Or chefs? Or private detectives? Or even politicians?

And was it sexy? Yes it was.

What's the last series you saw about coders? And that just took the p1ss and looked about as sexy as a really bad photo of Allison Golsby.

Even The Matrix - if you slogged through it all the way - revealed the chief coder to be some nerdy old bloke with a bad beard and a dress sense stolen from Dead Steve Jobs.

Leave the poor little things alone - There's little sexier than swinging a hammer and the country needs more tradies. As mentioned above, plenty of lads and lasses available on 451 visas to plug any IT skills gaps; no need to bore the natives to death ;-)

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Happy

Re: Coding is dull

Not always. An interesting problem is just that, especially if some-one says it probably can't be done. Had great fun coding elegant ways to do things that were powerful, fast and correct. Even doing my first spread sheet macros that saved a days work for a clerk was enjoyable and I had to teach myself the language first. Dull problems I treated as a challenge to make code run faster and use less resources than its predecessors. So V1.0 might solve problem well enough, but V2-3 were the challenge to be enjoyed. Time for a career change maybe ?

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Lack of workers?

Then pay what the job is actually worth. I have been looking for a new level 2 support job myself and it's frankly ridiculous to see the advertisements asking for university IT degrees or MCSEs and offering $30,000 per year.

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Flame

more like low grade b*llsh*t

This article deserved FOTW grade abusive response, but I just cant get the right feel for it. Too tired from fencing in the sun I suppose. However, lack of recruitment to an IT career shows kids are not as stupid as the social engineers desire. What person wants a job that can evaporate overnight to some sweatshop overseas, managed by "people" who need your skills and hate you for being useful, necessary and competent. Minimal career path compared to the less gifted who do a BA or finance degree and get money shoved at them for failures. A job where your most of your hard earned knowledge becomes dated within 3 years. A career where constant stress is normal, trying to keep promises made by sales weasels who get rewarded for lying, but you get the blame for not doing the impossible. A job where Dilbert strips happen to you and HR bullies ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H counsels you for hanging up on self-absorbed arrogant users who want you to break reasonable corporate rules to cover their incompetance. A career where the number of electronic paper pushers multiply to hinder you doing IT because some PHB thought ITIL means all of the processes, all of the time, but only IT staff are considered expensive.

Given the number of IT staff thrown on scrap heap lately, I agree with earlier commentards. Local firms are too greedy, short sighted and are managed by PHBs filled with fearful contempt of their betters. Giving their staff training to keep skills up to date and occasional pay rise without having to go somewhere else is just too hard for them.

I used to encourage my young relatives to look at IT. Now I suggest they become lawyers or accountants if I think they are amoral enough. The others I encourage to get a trade. Better pay, often better conditions, paid training and it's harder to send job offshore, despite mining companies best efforts in WA. After yesterdays incident when a TAFE IT staffer did not know what UI meant, I could succumb to despair if cynicism did not already protect me.

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Back in the good old days

ca 1983 I was a graduate of the ACS's Computer Industry Training Program, did a "one size fits all" cobol course even though I was going into a PL/1 shop (and few others were going into C and RPG 2/3 shops). Still it was useful till nearly 20 years later to the day I found myself 1 of 75 people made redundant on the same day in Brisbane , and one of 500 made redundant that day nationwide by a very large organisation (cough *lue cough) when another large organisation ( cough *elstra cough) gave the contract an organisation in India. Two months later for the same reason another 500 were let go, and 4 months later another 500 or so. History is repeating itself as the same company is in the process of shedding just as many again.

I never had a degree, and was over 40 and unemployed a year (did a tree change & worked in a winery running the cellar door) - organisations were still screaming they couldn't get developers.

Fast forward 10 years, I now have my degree, but still couldn't get work ("overqualified") so went sideways into teaching 3 years ago.

By coincidence today I was given my class list for next years year 11 Software Design & Development class (very full with 25 students - supposedly 38 chose it - although as option 7,8,9, or 10 :-( , but it is the first time it has been run at the school in 5 years :-) ) . As I was doing some research for that class I found the minimum ATAR was @ 80 , except for UNewcaste Ourimbah. I currently have quite a few in year 10 and suspect that they should have been steered to IDT (VET framework) as the kids will not do well for the reasons cracked has given above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Back in the good old days

Diogenes said: "Fast forward 10 years, I now have my degree, but still couldn't get work ("overqualified") so went sideways into teaching 3 years ago."

Same here. There's basically no jobs where I live, so when I saw the holy grail of IT jobs (Permanent full time working for a govt organisation) I applied immediately. Rejected, overqualified.

By chance, I had an interview in a different sector of the same organisation and saw the "perfect person for the job"

Female, minority race, extremely young - like 17 or 18. I can't believe they had a degree, 5 years industry experience, CCNA, MCSE (or similar) 3 years experience in server 2012 (lol) and all the other requirements because I barely have them all and I'm late 20s.

I think the only thing she had going for her was being very young. That way, they didn't have to pay the full rate they advertised and they could pay the lowest end of the pay range.

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Devil

Fancy stuff is pointless without the basics

The last factoid in the article is the real elephant in the room: basic skills are just not getting the priority they deserve in early education. I'm pretty worried about what my kids bring home from school. Last year, my 6yo was bringing home corrections to her spelling which were not actually correct themselves. "Trisicol" for tricycle, "verander" for verandah - from a teacher who claimed righteously to my wife that teaching was not just a job to her, but a vocation. This year, in year 2, my daughter is doing homework at an age where I and all my classmates had none, and yet I am just not convinced that the general standard of attainment in her class is any better than I saw at that stage of primary school...

Frankly, if you go into IT without a decent command of language, and of discrete maths, you will struggle to collaborate with people effectively, and to bring any rigor to problem solving processes. I'm not talking fancy University maths, just a decent secondary schooling foundation to get you used to a bit of abstract and systematic thought than you can build on as required.

Going on about some magic IT training that will turn kids into the IT workforce of the future is missing the point if the fundamentals are not properly addressed. It also helps to be interested in the subject, because as cracked points out, you will have to keep learning new stuff to stay useful...

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Basic education first, fairy stories, and discipline

Here's how to get children into the technical fields: read them fairy stories, and then read them more fairy stories. The imagination has to be sparked, and it has to be done at an early age. The basics of education need to be addressed, and also both a work and a play ethic has to be instilled. There are very, very few children who do this, and then retain it later, by their own nature. Mostly the education system seeks to batter down young minds, and smash everybody into the same can and label.

Another thing is discipline. A cousin of mine related to me her experiences trying to teach grade schoolers. The children were jumping up and down on the desks, totally out of control, and of course she couldn't thump them to make them behave. How do you teach discipline to children without disciplining them? Writing quality code takes discipline, and to really pursue it as a career means that you'll have to have that discipline for 50 years. It's learning and adaptation.

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Simon, In the Apple II/BBC Micro era Australia used to have one of the best computing teaching resources in the Parks Computer Centre in western Adelaide. Unfortunately this was disbanded, but most of the staff are still around. There are also some outstanding computing educators. I would have thought that building upon their experience would be the approach to take, but I can't see that this has been done.

It would be well worth your time to track down a few of the old Parks staff and interview them about what works and what doesn't.

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Angel

Old IT vs New IT

Being an IT drone in an office is how most people see IT - and they rightly see it as a seriously unattractive career. But there is more to IT than this.

There are a growing number of IT people who work from home, on their own time, helping clients, cutting code for clients who matter. Who treat IT as a craft rather than a profession. Next week I'm moving to a tropical beach - in this modern age of Skype and high speed internet, there is no need for me to ever personally meet most of my clients. The few I do travel to meet are worth the trip.

And the best part - I'm more productive now than I ever was doing 9-5, doing more interesting work, enjoying life, spending more time with my wife and daughter, working the hours I want to work, on my terms.

Life is good.

Next time you think about that tropical beach, think about what you would to do pay for the lifestyle. If waiting tables or taking shifts in the local night owl doesn't grab you as a good career choice, you might want to give a little thought to learning some IT skills.

http://www.desirableapps.com

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IT? If anyone knew how much work it takes to verify flight control software (I don't; I know some who do, though) they would never fly. Me, I know what a handheld radio can do to a poorly shielded processor board.

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