Networking in the real world

While tertiary colleges are turning out graduates, many who leave university discover that they don't posses the specific skillset or certification required to start on the IT road. Many networking courses are available to bridge the gap, but now universities and the IT industry are also working together to meet workplace needs.

Deakin University, Microsoft and Com Tech Education Services have formed a partnership to deliver Australia's first Bachelor of Computing Networking Technologies degree. Launched in Canberra recently by Dr David Kemp, Minister of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, the degree course will be available to 240 students at the beginning of 2001.

Kemp said, "We want Australia to be best placed to be plugged into the technology revolution so it is imperative we form these partnerships. Industry must take ownership of the skills it needs. I am pleased to see the IT industry addressing its own skills needs by participating in course development and providing work experience."

The three-year networking technologies degree from Deakin University will involve one year of full time study, a guaranteed job within the industry after one year in the program, two years of fully paid industry experience and the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification.

Students will spend half of their time at Deakin University and at Com Tech's education premises in the first 12 months. The course will be run under business conditions, with hours of attendance being 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and holidays of four weeks. At the completion of 12 months' study, the students will be placed in jobs and will continue their study part time over the next two years. Steve Ross, general manager of Com Tech education services, believes the Deakin University, Microsoft and Com Tech partnership is the only way students are going to get a well-rounded degree that is relevant to the industry.

Peter James, president and managing director of Interim Technology, said, "Networking courses lead to careers as network administrators, system support, network engineer, network manager, help desk, hardware/software support, chief information officer and IT manager. There is a stronger demand for network specialists in the permanent market to be certified, compared to contractors."

James added, "Employers are seeking more holistic skills. Therefore there is a demand for network specialists who have attained cross certification. Employers are likely to employ a candidate who has the capability to fill two positions, and to pay more for their skills. For example, an employer can employ one person at $150,000 per annum and two support staff at $50,000 per annum rather than hire two specialists at $135,000 each." e-ContractDavid Naylor, who finished a four-year computing engineering degree recently, said, "I finished my degree with no real skills that would translate to the workforce." When told about the Deakin, Microsoft and Com Tech networking degree initiative, Naylor was impressed. After a four-year computing engineering degree, he had gone straight into e-Contract, with no networking experience.e-Contract, a specialist network services agency, has developed a program that places networking trainees into partner organisations via a work experience scheme, and at the same time subsidises Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) training.

Naylor always knew he was more interested in the information and networking side of computing, so his first job through e-Contract at Telstra was just what he was looking for. This was a 12-month work experience contract, but after two months Telstra was so impressed with his work that they asked him to apply for a permanent position.

Naylor is not happy with the university education he received and said, "Students do not get any real skills that they can use to get a job when they finish a degree. At the very least, universities should offer subjects on base-level skills like the Cisco Certified Networking Analyst (CCNA) and Microsoft Systems Certified Engineer (MSCE) qualifications. These qualifications would give you real skills and you would be able to step straight into a job."

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