Plugging into new jobs
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.