The IT industry complains about the meaningless planned economy at the university, which costs prosperity

The IT industry complains about the meaningless planned economy at the university, which costs prosperity

Although IT specialists are urgently needed, there are access restrictions at universities, criticize experts and business representatives. The industry is concerned about the many drop-outs.

The international race for skilled workers is in full swing. Germany now wants to significantly expand the immigration of IT experts from India, announced Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) recently during a visit to the southern Indian tech metropolis of Bangalore. The sought-after specialists should receive visas more quickly and with less bureaucracy. It takes a lot of skilled workers to cover the need for software development, said Scholz.

While labor availability is only now becoming an issue for some industries, IT has struggled with it for many years. The problem: A waiter or dish washer in the catering trade can be fetched comparatively quickly if required. In IT, however, people with specific training are needed – if they don’t exist, they simply don’t exist. Point.

Lots of drop outs, lots of job outs

The industry complains that there is currently a shortage of 24,000 programmers and other people with IT skills in Austria, and the number is constantly increasing. Business representatives are particularly concerned about the high number of university dropouts. The drop-out rate in the computer science master’s degree was 48 percent. This can at least partly be explained by “job-outs” – the common practice that young talents are poached by companies before they graduate. But in the bachelor’s degree, the rate is 43 percent. This is particularly painful because it can be assumed that these dropouts will leave the industry.

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“The students who drop out are exactly the IT experts that companies ultimately lack,” says Martin Zandonella from the IT industry representative in the Chamber of Commerce. The number of university dropouts in the field of computer science has decreased slightly. However, it is still well above the average for all courses in Austria. The dropout rate is 38 percent, according to figures from the Carinthian Institute for Higher Studies, which calculated the shortage of skilled workers in the industry.

Problematic access restrictions

Access restrictions are also a problem. From a macroeconomic point of view, it is difficult to argue why universities are screening out areas in which many employees are lacking, criticizes study author Norbert Wohlgemuth. And delivers the figures: In the academic year 2021, 488 people were registered for an admissions procedure in the field of computer science and communication technology at the University of Vienna. In the end, 340 took part, with 305 almost all of them being admitted. There is a much larger discrepancy at the Technical University of Vienna. There, 1065 people were last registered for the admission test, 882 started and 670 were accepted.

It is interesting that, according to industry representatives, Vienna is the only federal state in Austria in which admission tests are held for computer science studies. As a result of these access restrictions, the industry is missing out on “a certain potential,” says Wohlgemuth. In general, the universities of applied sciences produce more IT graduates than the universities, although they have significantly fewer students (7,120 to around 18,000). With regard to the access restrictions at the universities, Wohlgemuth speaks of a “meaning-free planned economy”. This would result in a significant loss of added value year after year.

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The industry association Ubit therefore demands that training in the IT sector be redesigned in such a way that the dropout rate decreases. Even a reduction of ten percent, that is a good 2000 fewer dropouts, would lead to 350 million euros more in added value for Austria.

In an OECD comparison, Austria is only in the middle

If you look at the proportion of IT studies in all studies, Austria is only in the middle compared to other industrialized countries (see chart). According to the industry report by the Carinthian Institute for Advanced Studies, a good 18,000 study places in the field of computer science and communication technology were occupied at Austrian universities. There were a good 7,100 at technical colleges.

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