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The ICT skills shortage and why bleating is not enough

The shortage of ICT professionals is not a new phenomenon in New Zealand, nor in many other developed economies. Professional organisations such as NZTech and the NZ Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) are well aware of this issue. New Zealand government ministers have recently expressed their own concerns about this.. but hang on… what are they doing about it? The IITP has recently pointed out to the government that its funding for ICT research over the last few years has been pitiful. ICT is treated as a poor relation to other areas of research and development, leading to low investment and, of course, low returns. Government policy influences university policy, so that my own university research goals sideline ICT, indeed most aspects of technology. The underlying thinking seems to be that ICT is just an infrastructure service, not a ‘real’ discipline. Some might say that the link between ICT research and ICT skills in the marketplace are tenuously linked at best. However, perhaps some investment in, for example, ICT scholarships at both undergraduate  and postgraduate levels might be a sign to potential students that the government does actually care about the ICT skills shortage enough to do something about it rather than just bleating.

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