30 June 1999

New course targets Australia's information technology crisis

Minister for Communication and Information Terry Mackenroth tonight will launch a bold new University of Queensland curriculum initiative to address Australia's current shortfall of IT graduates.

Mr Mackenroth will launch a new postgraduate program targeting Australia's IT skills crisis, at a Brisbane Customs House function on Wednesday, June 30 at 5.30pm.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor John Hay said more than 100 high quality applicants had qualified for entry to the course starting semester two, beginning July 19.

"The new postgraduate program, the Master of Information Technology, has been developed for people with a background in a field other than IT, " he said. "It's designed to give them the key skills for this rapidly advancing field to complement their first degrees."

Head of the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department Professor Paul Bailes said that Minister Mackenroth was working on a communications and industry strategies plan for Queensland and a key part would be to address the IT skills crisis. "He states that the number of people employed in the industry increased by 11.5 percent in 1997/98, nearly double the national average," he said.

"Clearly for the industry to continue to grow, many additional people with information technology skills will be needed, posing a challenge not only to the people of Queensland but its educational institutions. We've invited the Minister to launch the course to show how much we support these kinds of initiatives."

Professor Bailes said the current worldwide shortfall in IT graduates meant Australian graduates, already in scarce supply, were offered high quality jobs overseas.

Graduates of the course would have IT skills in programming, software design, database technology, human-computer interaction, networking and practical project management applicable to industry. Professor Bailes said the new program would prepare graduates for the technological challenges and opportunities of the future in fields including banking, telecommunications, defence, commerce, government, health, and education.

He said the University of Queensland's School of Information Technology was Australia's largest postgraduate research school in the IT field, with industry links to many Australian and international companies.

Media: Further information, contact Professor Bailes, telephone 07 3365 3869, email: paul@csee.uq.edu.au