COM­PUT­ING GROWTH

Plug­ging into new jobs

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TEN years af­ter the dot­com bub­ble burst, IT grad­u­ates are in in­creas­ing de­mand as the com­puter in­dus­try again picks up pace.

This time, in­dus­try an­a­lysts say the lessons learnt from the in­ter­net boom and its spec­tac­u­lar crash will re­sult in greater job se­cu­rity.

Uni­ver­sity of South Aus­tralia school of com­puter and in­for­ma­tion sci­ence head Pro­fes­sor Andy Koro­nios says there al­ways will be cy­cles for em­ploy­ment within the IT in­dus­try.

‘‘But they’re not go­ing to be as dra­matic as they were a decade ago,’’ he says.

‘‘We’re very op­ti­mistic about the IT mar­ket in Aus­tralia.

‘‘All the sig­nals now are that peo­ple can be re­as­sured about the in­dus­try’s fu­ture.

‘‘We have reached up to 90 per cent of our grad­u­ates find­ing pro­fes­sional em­ploy­ment.

‘‘Not taxi driv­ing, but pro­fes­sional em­ploy­ment in the IT in­dus­try.

‘‘ And there’s still sig­nif­i­cant growth oc­cur­ring.’’

There are now an es­ti­mated 18 mil­lion web­sites in op­er­a­tion and Pro­fes­sor Koro­nios says the new wave of cloud com­put­ing – whereby soft­ware and IT in­fra­struc­ture are de­liv­ered as ser­vices via the in­ter­net – will only in­crease de­mand for IT grad­u­ates.

‘‘For all these (changes and de­vel­op­ments in the com­put­ing in­dus­try) to oc­cur, there are go­ing to be a lot of skills re­quired,’’ he says. ‘‘Peo­ple think of com­put­ing as pro­gram­ming but that’s just part of it. There are so many other kinds of jobs and roles in the IT field.

‘‘IT will keep grow­ing and in the longer term, there’s go­ing to be steady de­mand for grad­u­ates.’’

It is a far cry from the dot­com cri­sis, when in­ter­est in com­put­ing cour­ses plum­meted.

Pro­fes­sor Koro­nios says UniSA’s com­put­ing school, along with most oth­ers in the coun­try, halved its in­take of IT stu­dents as in­ter­est in com­put­ing ca­reers crashed.

UniSA fi­nally had re­newed in­ter­est in com­put­ing last year, he says.

‘‘I think we had around a 20 per cent in­crease, whereas in the past, we were av­er­ag­ing a 10 per cent de­cline,’’ he says. ‘‘De­mand is grow­ing and in terms of em­ploy­ment, even for those who had some dif­fi­cul­ties in 2000 (when the dot­com bub­ble burst), things have im­proved and now things are great.’’

Ax­ios IT man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ja­son Goodridge says job op­por­tu­ni­ties for grad­u­ates are bet­ter than ever.

Mr Goodridge, who is also the state vice-chair­man of the Aus­tralian Com­puter So­ci­ety (ACS), says com­pa­nies that in­tend to hire IT grad­u­ates are em­ploy­ing now.

‘‘My feel­ing is that with the econ­omy on the rise, peo­ple are think­ing about hir­ing and they’re think­ing about it now, while in­creas­ing staff num­bers is not nec­es­sar­ily ur­gent,’’ he says.

‘‘They’re pulling the grad­u­ates in now be­cause it gives them a bit of lead-in time so grad­u­ates can get some ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore the econ­omy re­ally ramps up . . . be­cause by then, they’re go­ing to need that ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

He says the com­put­ing in­dus­try has al­ways strug­gled to find em­ploy­ees with suit­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mr Goodridge is work­ing with the Uni­ver­sity of Ade­laide to es­tab­lish an in­tern­ship pro­gram, pro­vid­ing a post­grad­u­ate stu­dent the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­take their re­search project with Ax­ios IT. With the ACS, he also helps in­ter­na­tional stu­dents try­ing to find work.

‘‘There’s al­ways been an un­der­sup­ply of peo­ple who are a year or two on from hav­ing grad­u­ated.

‘‘Em­ploy­ers tend to favour those peo­ple be­cause by then they have that on-the-job ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ Mr Goodridge says.

Atul Chaud­hary grad­u­ated from UniSA in 2007 with a mas­ter’s de­gree in in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion technology man­age­ment.

Mr Chaud­hary, 27, did work ex­pe­ri­ence and vol­un­tary work for eight months af­ter grad­u­at­ing to boost his job prospects.

‘‘The main rea­son, for me that it took sev­eral months af­ter grad­u­at­ing to find work, was a lack of com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ he says.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re get­ting paid or do­ing it for free.

‘‘When you’re about to fin­ish your course, you should look at get­ting some sort of work ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause em­ploy­ers do ask you about what ex­pe­ri­ence you have.’’

Atul Chaud­hary, a re­cent IT grad­u­ate who found work at Ax­ios IT within a few months of fin­ish­ing his stud­ies.

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