IT jobs boom sees TAFE struggle to meet demand for networking specialists
TAFE Illawarra student Georgina Barton says the world is her oyster. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)
Every week, Information Technology head teacher Terry Kofod has employers ringing him at his Illawarra TAFE office wanting a graduate to fill a job.
- The IT industry is booming as the NBN network rolls out and more consumers and businesses upgrade their technology
- The Regional Australia Institute has forecast by 2021, up to 600 businesses and 7,620 digital jobs will be created in Wollongong alone as a result of access to the NBN
- Wollongong’s TAFE can’t keep up with demand from employers seeking students
The situation has become so critical, employers are even willing to take on students before they finish their diploma.
“I’ve reached the point where people call and I say I’ve run out of students,” Mr Kofod said.
“There are so many jobs and not enough students, so I’m telling them to wait a couple of months and I’ll be able to find someone, but I can’t do it immediately. And I used to be able to do it immediately.”
The course is a Diploma of Networking, and as the NBN roll-out continues across Australia and businesses use more IT, graduates are in unprecedented demand.
They are not only being employed within specific IT businesses, their training means they are working as IT technicians in small, medium and large businesses.
“This has been going on for two or three years — there’s a growth of IT demand out there and we just can’t keep up,” Mr Kofod said.
The continued rollout of the NBN in Australia will contribute to an enormous increase in jobs in regional Australia. (ABC News: Pamela Medlen)
Female among the males
Wollongong’s Georgina Barton might be the only girl in her Certificate IV class in IT Networking, but it makes no difference to her or her classmates.
“In the classroom, you’re not the female amongst the males, you’re just all there to learn and bounce ideas off everyone else,” she said.
“I don’t stand out, I just feel like another student doing a Certificate IV.”
She said while there is an enormous gender imbalance within the IT industry, the high prospect of employment and opportunity to work in an evolving field should be appealing.
“I think girls are afraid of doing it and don’t realise they can do it too,” she said.
“I’m used to it and I won’t let being a girl hold me back from what I want to do.”
For Georgina, her love for IT started in high school when she took a keen interest in computers.
She said it has continued to evolve, and aiming for a career in IT after completing her Diploma means she will always be working in an industry that is relevant.
“A career in IT would be excellent with the NBN or networking — the world’s my oyster at the moment.”
The boom in IT jobs has meant 100 per cent of Illawarra TAFE Diploma of Networking graduates last year are now employed. (Reuters)
NBN-driven jobs boom will address unemployment
The Regional Australia Institute has forecast by 2021, up to 600 businesses and 7,620 digital jobs will be created in Wollongong alone as a result of access to the NBN.
The situation in Wollongong is one that could play out in numerous other regional NSW centres serviced by TAFE’s Networking courses, such as Albury, Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.
There will also be a steady stream of graduates in bigger centres like Sydney and Newcastle.
Mr Kofod said it helped address one of his biggest concerns.
“Youth unemployment is something that worries me because I have young children,” he said.
“Most of our students are younger guys and we focus on producing employable people.
“At the moment we can almost guarantee a student a job if they work hard and do well in class and that’s really satisfying helping those people get jobs.”