Addressing the severe skills shortages in Australia’s information technology (IT) industry, Charles Sturt University (CSU) announced a new degree today, Tuesday 29 July, that will see students enter the IT workforce in 12 months instead of the usual three or four years.
Incorporating internationally recognised industry certificates, the University’s Bachelor of Industry Computing will allow students to commence working in entry level positions after 12 months study.
Adjunct senior lecturer in computing at CSU, Mr Martin Hale, said research indicates early career support positions are the main way people enter the IT industry.
“The degree is broken into two parts. The first phase over 12 months focuses on giving students the basic skills required to commence work at an entry level in desktop and network support. The second ‘work integrated learning’ phase then supports future promotion into various roles in the IT industry, including more advanced support positions, supervisors, project management and systems development,” Mr Hale said.
Delivered by distance education, the degree includes certificates for a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), an A+ Certified IT Technician from the global Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and a Customer Support Specialist certification from the IT Helpdesk Association.
This approach has the support of the world’s leading IT trade association CompTIA, with president and chief executive officer John Venator from the United States to help launch the degree.
“CompTIA has helped design the degree and we believe that the inclusion of industry certifications such as the A+ IT Technician certification will make students highly attractive to prospective employers,” Mr Venator said.
“The A+ certificate is the world’s most popular IT industry certification with over 600 000 people having the certificate. It is an absolute must-have for anyone working on an IT support desk.”
Director of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Foundation, John Ridge, was another key member of the course development team. Since 2001, The ACS Foundation has raised over $14 million to sponsor higher education scholarships in IT, resulting in over 850 scholarships.
“Australia’s IT industry is facing a crisis because of the dramatic downturn in students enrolling in IT degrees. Because students in this degree begin gaining relevant industry experience after only 12 months, this degree should help alleviate this shortfall,” Mr Ridge said.
“We know that industry relevant experience is the lynch pin between university education and entering the work force, and students who incorporate it are at the forefront at getting job offers at when they finish their degrees.
“ACS research shows that 70 per cent of people who work in IT as a part of their degrees are still with the same employer after seven years, whereas 47 per cent of first year graduates without the work experience leave after 12 months.”
This CSU initiative has been praised by Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy. “The development of industry-relevant skills is a key requirement to ensure Australia makes the most of the opportunities presented by the digital economy. “Charles Sturt University should be commended for its work in connecting degree students with the ICT industry and ensuring students are well skilled to meet industry needs.”
The degree of 24 subjects is spread over three trimesters in each of two years. Students are recommended to complete four subjects per trimester.