A dwindling pool of IT graduates will force financial sector companies to speed up their offshoring efforts, according to group chief information officer (CIO) for ANZ Bank, Anne Weatherston.
Responding to a question on IT jobs at the Banktech Summit in Sydney yesterday, ANZ's Weatherston said that the shortage will eventually force the bank's hand on offshoring.
"The other issue in Australia is that, I'm told, we have less and less IT graduates coming out of university. I think the figure that was quoted to me last year was something like 3500 IT graduates out of Australian universities. I think that's a huge concern because it means we are forced to go elsewhere to find technology [staff]. The danger is that it accelerates the pace of offshoring," she told delegates.
Weatherston, former CIO of the Bank of Ireland, said that the Federal Government in Australia and the education sector aren't doing enough to attract local investment in ICT.
"One of the things we went through in Ireland is that the government actively developed a very strong technology industry which brought companies to Ireland and still does, even in the [global financial crisis]. Australia has a real weakness in that area.
"I'm told there are a number of reasons for [the IT skills shortage], one of them is that IT's not attractive particularly to a woman as a discipline, but the other reason I've been told is that in Australia, the entry qualifications are very demanding at each university, which puts a lot of people off," Weatherston said, adding that the problem is getting so bad that ANZ Bank executives are now working with the government to attract more students to IT degrees.
"Greg Clark, the chair of our tech committee here at ANZ, is now speaking to the government about specifically what can we do to improve the throughput of IT graduates in Australian universities, because it's definitely a weakness."
The problem starts, however, in Australian high schools, according to professors at the University of Sydney, who last week said that IT isn't given any emphasis at a secondary level.
"The syllabus tends to be a bit under-insuring for a lot of talented students," according to Tara Murphy, lecturer in astro-informatics at the University of Sydney.