Look To The Future Of Digital Jobs

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has launched its Australia Digital Pulse 2017 report, with the unsurprising but still good to know findings showing that Australia is in the midst of a digital boom. What does a ‘digital boom’ mean? In real terms, the digital sector – and it’s worth noting that today the digital sector is a part of every sector of the economy – created 40,000 jobs in the last two years. Exports of digital, or information communications technology (ICT), services rose by 12 per cent to $2.8 billion.

Not sure you love the shift to digital? Maybe this will help change your mind. Modelling conducted by Deloitte Access Economics as part of the Digital Pulse report showed that adoption of digital technologies has lifted the nation’s GDP by 6.6 per cent over the past ten years – meaning each Australia is $4.663 a year (in 2016 dollars) better off.

But unlike the mining construction, housing apartment and – we can only hope – the nationalist booms, the digital boom is only just beginning to ramp up. The report warns that we need to build more digital skills capacity, because it would take a further 81,000 new ICT professionals by 2022 to fuel future technology-led growth. And before your thoughts go straight to techy kids (bless them and their super-charged minds) the sector is also in need of a serious diversity shift. Women represent only 28 per cent of Australia’s ICT workforce (compared to 44 per cent across all professional industries) and older works aged over 55 represent just 12 per cent of the nation’s ICT sector. That figure will, of course, lift in the next six years as current workers cross the 55-year mark, but there is enormous capacity to build the digital skills in our current over-40s workforce; and ladies, your problem-solving skills are perfectly suited to digital applications. 

ACS President, Anthony Wong, said, “Technology skills are fast becoming the engine room of the Australian economy. 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, said Australia’s skills shift is accelerating and expanding across every industry. 

“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.

“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,” Mr O’Donnell said.

Addressing Australia’s skilled ICT shortfall, ACS President Anthony Wong, said, “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. 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.” 

Deloitte Access Economics partner, John O’Mahony, said, “Australian employers are placing a high value on ICT skills against the backdrop of digital technologies being increasingly fundamental to a thriving economy. 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.

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