Skills crisis, what skills crisis?: Coonan

Senior politicians have warned that Australia is heading for an ICT skills crisis with the country's students outpacing their teachers in their knowledge of technology.

Senior politicians have warned that Australia is heading for an ICT skills crisis with the country's students outpacing their teachers in their knowledge of technology.

Speaking today at an Australian Computer Society event in Sydney, Labor's deputy leader in the Senate, communications spokesperson Stephen Conroy, said: "Along with the infrastructure overhaul, Labor recognises we need to move quickly to address the skills crisis."

The "crisis", according to Conroy, is manifested in the falling number of students studying ICT subjects at universities, down 9,000 year-on-year.

"Australia is facing a skills crisis in the sector. We need to think of the pipeline effect that will have in the next couple of years. It's only going to get worse," he said.

Senator Lyn Allison, leader of the Australian Democrats, concurred with Conroy's view that the sector also needs an image makeover to attract more students to study technological and scientific disciplines.

"I agree we've got to turn that perception around. If we don't change that situation we're never going to enthuse people," Allison said.

Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts, hit back at the suggestion the government is not doing enough to promote IT, maths and science in Australian schools.

Coonan described her rivals as having "an extraordinary lack of information" and making "facile criticisms" of the government's record.

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