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IT secures $56 million in government's new skills program

IT secures $56 million in government's new skills program

Scientists, engineers crucial to nation’s competitiveness

The federal government has made available $56 million for IT training over the next four years as part of its $837 million program to ease the skills crisis.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday announced $56 million over four years to fund 500 extra engineering places at universities from 2008.

Howard said the first audit of science, engineering and technology skills in July this year found about 13.5 percent of employed Australians currently hold relevant qualifications, adding that while this figures compares reasonably well with many OECD countries, Australia must not be complacent.

"Our skills audit (released July) found that Australia potentially faces a declining number of engineers available to meet industry needs due to demographic trends. Engineers Australia has also highlighted that a large proportion of current engineers who graduated in the 1960s and 1970s will retire over the next 10 years," Howard said.

"The increased globalization of science and technology (not least with the rise of China and India as economic and technology powers) presents both challenges and opportunities for Australia. This has been a particular theme of my discussions with scientists and academics under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council in the last 12 months.

"A strong skills base in science, engineering and technology is crucial to the foundations of national competitiveness. Qualified scientists and engineers are essential to research and development, innovation and productivity growth."

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