New Report: US Tech Workers Boost the Growth of Australia’s Tech Ecosystem

Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 9 August 2023

The Tech Council of Australia, Microsoft and LinkedIn today launched a report called Harnessing the Hidden Value: How US Tech Workers Boost the Growth of Australia’s Tech Ecosystem at Old Parliament House in Canberra.

The report highlighted the benefits of the close Australian and US alliance on the Australian tech sector and startup ecosystem. According to the report, one in five Australian tech graduates are employed in a US tech firm and 20% of US tech alumni found or play a significant role in the establishment of new startups.

Matt Tindale, LinkedIn’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said the US tech-alumni have been crucial to developing Australian tech talent.
“Based on our experience in the Australian tech sector, we know that US tech firms play a significant role in bolstering our industry. They equip their employees with sought-after skills that are in high demand in the talent marketplace.

“According to our Economic Graph data, around 4,000 experienced local workers transition annually from US tech firms to Australian businesses. This diffusion of skilled professionals contributes positively to our local economy by enabling Australian companies to stay competitive in the global market, drive innovation, and expand their operations.” Tindale said.

The report reveals that 80% of those Australians employed by US tech firms who leave, move on to home-grown companies, start-ups or the public sector. All up, each annual cohort of US tech alumni that take up roles in Australian firms contribute $613 million in value added to the economy.

Belinda Dennett, Microsoft Australia’s Director of Corporate Affairs, agreed with the report findings which show that US tech firm workers pass on knowledge and skills.

“Microsoft has been part of the Australian tech ecosystem for over 40 years and we have long recognised the contribution our people make,” she said. “This report demonstrates the skill transfer goes beyond just the tech sector and helps put a value on that contribution.”

Professor Genevieve Bell, Director – School of Cybernetics, College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetic and Australian National University (ANU), shared her experience of benefiting from her time in the States and bringing back those skills to Australia.

After completing her PhD in Anthropology at Stanford University, Professor Bell met a venture capitalist around the San Fransisco area which led to her taking a role at Intel’s Architecture Lab.

“One thing I learnt at Intel was that I really wanted to build things, not just study them,” she said.

“I’ve since gone on to create the new School of Cybernetics at ANU, which equips Australians with skills for the future.

Among the many lessons she learned during her time working in Silicon Valley, she said, was ‘the notion of prototyping, iteration and rapidly experimenting.’

Below are the highlights of the report Harnessing the Hidden Value: How US Tech Workers Boost the Growth of Australia’s Tech Ecosystem:

  • 75% of tech jobs require more than 3 years of experience compared to just 58% on average for other professionals 
  • 102,000 Australians work in large US tech firms  
  • 1 in 2 of Australia’s successful startups were started or scaled with US tech-experienced talent 
  • 4,000 US tech alumni transition to careers in Australian startups, industry or public service each year 
  • $2.2Bn economic contribution of US tech alumni to Australia each year 
  • 1 in 5 experienced tech workers will have worked at a US tech firm by 2030 
  • 1 in 8 new tech jobs created by 2030 will be in US tech firms 
  • 18% of tech grads will be employed at a US tech firm by 2030 

Harnessing the Hidden Value: How US Tech Workers Boost the Growth of Australia’s Tech Ecosystem
Credit: Harnessing the Hidden Value: How US Tech Workers Boost the Growth of Australia’s Tech Ecosystem

At the event, the US Ambassador , Kevin Rudd, gave the keynote speech. It was followed by a lively panel debate with Rudd, Economic Counselor for the US Embassy Michael Sullivan, Tech Council CEO Kate Pounder, and ANU Professor Genevieve Bell AO.

Women Love Tech Editor Robyn Foyster and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the TCA event in Old Parliament House in Canberra

Fittingly, the former Prime Minister wrapped up the panel by entreating everyone to grasp the opportunity and to be among Australia’s future entrepreneurs and not to be afraid of failure.

With a wry smile, he referred to the time he came ‘second’ in the Australian Federal elections and went on to describe how failure and the willingness to have a go in the first place is worn as a ‘badge of honour’ in the States. He also explained how the right mindset is what gets phenomenal results.

“Often in this country, the thing which holds you back is what’s in your headspace…Of course, you might fail,” Rudd told the audience at Old Parliament House today. “It is regarded as a badge of honour in the United States to have tried and failed, rather not to have tried at all. So have the chutzpah, just to get across the psychological barrier, to go out there and roll your arm over … and have a go. Frankly, the rewards will be phenomenal. And the yield to this country, by the way, the examples you set and the opportunities you create for others, will be extraordinary.”

Kate Pounder, Tech Council of Australia CEO
Kate Pounder, Tech Council of Australia CEO

As Kate Pounder said many of our tech unicorns – think Atlassian and Canva to name a few – were born here on our Australian shores only in the last decade.

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