It's hip to be square: Aussie teens dig IT jobs

New research shows Australian teenagers want an innovative career

A survey of Australian teenagers has revealed that IT is the most popular pick for a career, beating jobs in design and acting. Released today by the Australian Computer Society (ACS), the survey of 1820 people aged 12 to 18 marks a shift away from the stereotyping of IT professionals as geeks, with only 5 per cent holding this view.

Almost a third of teens surveyed cited innovation as the leading characteristic of an IT career.

Information Systems senior lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, Glen Van Der Vyver, said he has been surprised at the lack of uptake of IT careers over the years because there are so many opportunities and so many unfilled positions.

“The ‘geeky’ image has sort of hung around, but IT has changed dramatically,” he said. “There’s much less programming now and a lot more problem solving, and we’ve been trying to push this for quite a while.”

Van Der Vyver said many changes have been made in the way universities promote IT degrees to teenagers.

According to the ACS survey, 30 per cent of respondents said they thought about “being on the edge of new technological developments” when considering a career in IT, and 21 per cent thought a career in IT was “pretty cool”; 15 per cent associated IT with “a career that earns a lot of money”.

The survey also revealed that brands associated with ‘cool’ innovations such as Google, Apple, Nintendo, Microsoft, MySpace and Sony have helped make a career in IT more appealing.

“As people get more into MySpace, and so on, technology is becoming ‘cooler’ and I really do hope that’s going to translate into a lot more students because there are wonderful opportunities in Australia right now,” Van Der Vyver said.

The survey results were released as part of the second National ICT Careers Week, which begins on Monday.

ACS Chairperson Kumar Parakala said the availability of computers in schools has laid the foundations for attracting high-school student into IT careers.

“Now the industry needs to showcase the career paths available to students,” he said.

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