Australia’s Digital Future Is Strong But Are We Doing Enough To Support It? 

By James Graham
on 29 May 2017

More than 81,000 new jobs will be needed over the next five years to fuel technology-led growth, says a comprehensive new study. 

The ACS, the professional association for Australia’s information and communication technologies’ [ICT] sector, reveals in its 2017 ‘Australia’s Digital Pulse’ report that we’re already in the midst of an unprecedented digital boom.

In the last two years alone there has been 40,000 new tech jobs created, and that trend is only going to continue says ACS president Anthony Wong. 

“Technology skills are fast becoming the engine room of the Australian economy,” says Anthony.

“To fast-track our nation’s digital transformation, and ensure the ICT skills base is there to meet demand, we need a clear strategy and dedicated investment focus in this area. 

LinkedIn Director of Public Policy for Asia Pacific, Nick O’Donnell, says Australia’s skills shift is accelerating and expanding across every industry.

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“We are seeing significant hiring of tech talent by non-tech companies. Half of the top 20 industries hiring ICT workers in 2016 were non-tech, the most active industries being financial services, which jumped from twelfth position in 2015 to up to fourth in 2016,” says Nick.

“LinkedIn’s data also shows that the top skills demanded by employers hiring new ICT workers includes a balance of technical skills and broader business skills. Business skills such as Relationship Management, Business Strategy and Strategic Planning in combination with technical skills are highly sought after to drive digitisation of business processes. 

Addressing Australia’s skilled ICT shortfall, ACS President Anthony Wong, adds: “The ACS is actively championing the uptake of coding in schools, better support for teachers in the delivery of emerging technology areas, the establishment of multidisciplinary degrees, and relevant training programs to help to build a pipeline of workers with valuable ICT skills.

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“In a skills shortage environment, skilled migration is an important lever for developing competitive advantage for the nation. However, it needs to be targeted, and needs to address the genuine skills gaps in the domestic market, while ensuring migrant workers are not exploited.” 

Although diversity is still an issue – women represent only 28% of the ICT workforce (compared to 44% across all professional industries) – John O’Mahony, partner at Deloitte Access Economics, the company that prepared the report, believes now is the time to make a move.

“Australian employers are placing a high value on ICT skills against the backdrop of digital technologies being increasingly fundamental to a thriving economy,” he says.

“As business disruption becomes more widespread, businesses need a strong ICT core to manage change – making ICT workers and ICT skills the bread and butter behind that change.”

The report further highlights a ‘to-do’ list for government that includes multiplying digital precincts, prioritising cyber, transitioning education and getting more people to study ICT, supporting Aussie start-ups, the next steps for the NBN and wireless technology, and focusing on efforts towards open data, digitising government, and copyright reform.

Australia’s Digital Pulse is a unique and comprehensive analysis of the ICT sector and the digital economy for Australia. Download the full report for more information. 

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