President's Message: Season's Greetings - Bon Voyage 2017
Bon Voyage 2017
It has been an amazing year for ITPA - the first full 12 months of our existence after forming in September 2016.
From a relatively small base at the start of the year, the organisation has grown rapidly to the point where we now boast over 17,000 Associate members and we thank you very much for that endorsement of our motivations and objectives.
Our challenge as a collective of like-minded IT professionals is to harness that developing sense of community to achieve better outcomes for society from the enormous investments in technology being made by public and private enterprise.
One of the key missions we articulated when ITPA was founded relates to career development through promoting the teaching and learning of skills that are relevant to the demands of industry.
At the expense of local tertiary graduates from our domestic IT faculties, too many times we have seen organisations claim that they must bring in workers from overseas because the skills they require are just not available locally.
Just how much of this is motivated by the desire of industry to cut costs on wages or the cash-cow that is created to manage the programs that accredit skilled worker visas, is open to debate and is an issue that we have pursued through the media.
What is clearly apparent, however, is the fact that while many local graduates have difficulty finding employment, literally thousands of people are arriving from overseas on TSS (Temporary Skilled Shortages) visas to undertake entry-level roles.
Moving to this system - which replaced the previous, failed 457 visas, - only fiddled around the edges of the problem. It has not really addressed what we see as the core issue which is the fact that many of these “skills” shortages (not all) could be easily taught to locals with a short training course and a commitment to ongoing employment but the Government won’t compel industry to do so.
Such abuse is wrong, it is rife, and it is largely unreported. So, we will continue to climb up on our soapbox, expose indiscretions and push for change where possible. In 2018, you can be sure we will continue to light the proverbial blow-torch on this rort and find bellies that need exposure to its flame.
This awareness campaign we have been undertaking has been working and we are now getting media outlets proactively reaching out to us for inside knowledge and our opinions on issues in the industry.
While it is good that our membership has grown so rapidly, it is just as important that we convert those numbers to full financial membership and get more of these financial members to participate in the rapidly expanding Certified Practicing Member (CPM) program.
Only launched in February this year, the CPM program is going gang-busters with over 10 per cent of our eligible financial members taking up the challenge of completing a minimum amount of study each year. CPM status can be maintained by completing your own studies - whether they be industry training or units towards a Masters degree - or by completing the free courses offered by ITPA.
It is also in our charter to raise awareness of technology issues in Australia that are of national importance and offering considered solutions to problems in the industry.
We have achieved this goal through regular press releases and opinion pieces supplied to media outlets exposing significant issues such as the NBN debacle, 457 visa rorts, poor governance over Government spending.
We have also submitted Freedom of Information requests to try and find details that are not in the public forum (but should be) and we have invested in analysis of ABS Census data to try and paint a clearer picture of how the industry and wages in the industry are changing.
During 2017, ITPA joined forces with many other independent industry associations to be foundation members of the Beyond 2020 Alliance which aims to facilitate discussion and debate, and formulate a vision of Australia’s digitally enabled future beyond 2020. We also lent our support to the Federal Government’s Stay Smart Online initiative which promotes safe internet engagement.
There has also been a lot of effort behind the scenes to improve membership engagement through online forums, regular new web content and monthly newsletters.
Another successful activity undertaken in 2017 was to be a sponsor of the linux.conf.au. We had great conversations with delegates, recruited a lot of new members and will be returning n 2017.
Engaging with the open-source community is something that we feel is important to circumvent the grip that commercial interests are using to limit the benefits of IT to just profit. We will be sponsoring this conference again in 2018
Other things we will be focusing on in 2018 include improving and increasing member services as well as engaging more significantly with government and industry.
Overall, it has been a great year and we look forward to continuing to serve the interests of our members and the broader IT industry over the next 12 months.
Finally, I would like to make special thanks to ITPA’s small but loyal band of sponsors which include IT Masters, Symantec, ZettaGrid and CQR. These organisations provide much-appreciated support that allows us to continue developing member services and positive outcomes for the industry.
On behalf of the Executive Committee, I extend all the greetings of the festive season to you. Hopefully you will all get some regenerative rest and recreation while spending time with your loved ones before returning in the New Year ready to take on the challenges that 2018 is sure to present to us all.
All the best.