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ACS Australia's Digital Pulse 2020

Reskilling Australia and the digital economy are the keys to productivity gains and higher paying jobs

Key findings:

  1. Australia’s technology workforce exceeded three quarters of a million workers in 2019 (772,100).
  2. The number of technology workers increased by 6.8% between 2018 and 2019 — 1.5 times the growth in the number of professional occupations over the same period.
  3. An additional 156,000 technology workers will be needed by 2025 just to keep pace with current demand
  4. For Australia to be a world leader, an additional 388,000 technology workers are needed by 2025
  5. Australia’s ICT Services exports grew to $4.69n in FY2018/19, with the ICT Services trade surplus growing 42.6% to $770m.
  6. ICT subdivisions generated over $56 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Australian economy in 2019.

Sydney, Friday 18 September 2020: ACS, the association for IT professionals in Australia, last night released the ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse 2020 report. Prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, this annual report provides a detailed examination of digital workforce trends, aimed at informing public debate about this important area of our economy.

The Australian economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is 6.5% ($126 billion) larger in 2019 than it would have been without the productivity benefits of digital technology.

The technology workforce continues to increase at a faster rate than other parts of the economy with technology workers increasing in numbers by 6.8% between 2018 and 2019; the equivalent of 1.5 times the growth in the number of professional occupations over the same period.

On average, the technology workforce is expected to grow at 3.1% for the next five years - double the expected growth rate of the broader labour force. At that pace, by 2027, there will be more than one million technology workers in Australia.

Despite this growth, the report found that Australia’s International competitiveness has declined - primarily due to other countries improving their performances at a greater rate. Australia has an average rank of seven out of 16 countries in 2019 across 24 indicators.

The report dedicates a chapter on how businesses have responded to the COVID-19 crisis across products, channels, people, customer service, operations and systems, and assesses the potential longterm legacy citing previous research that on average, highly digitally engaged businesses earn 60% more revenue per employee and grow 28% faster than businesses with poor digital engagement.

This year’s Digital Pulse explores six key areas to improve the performance and competitiveness of Australia’s digital economy and workforce:

  1. Upskilling and reskilling
  2. Investment in digital capacity
  3. Research and development (R&D)
  4. Shaping the digital landscape through e-invoicing
  5. Encourage technology start-ups through employee share schemes (ESS)
  6. Improving the measurement of the ICT sector’s contribution to the Australian economy

Quotes attributable to ACS Chief Executive Officer Andrew Johnson

“Australian exports are not very diverse, and across those export industries, don’t employ many people. Further, the sophistication of Australia’s broader human capital (comparatively speaking) is not very high. This is a risk to future standards of living.”

“What’s missing in the national conversation about reskilling Australia is incentivising the upskilling of the existing workforce. There is much investment in retraining displaced workers, and rightly so. Growth in GDP per capita however comes from lifting the productivity of our current workforce. Subsidies designed to encourage existing technology workers to upskill their capabilities and be able to immediately uplift the productivity of their current employers, needs to be part of the mix.”

“Governments extending programs to enhancing the digital infrastructure of Australian small businesses will be an important way to save current jobs and create new jobs in the next 12 months. Supporting digital infrastructure in this area of our economy will provide immediate productivity and efficiency dividends.”

“Doubling down on digital technologies will be the best way to reinvent business models and adapt to living with a suppressed COVID-19.”

“Reskilling in technology knowledge and skills may offer a wage premium of around $10,348 per year, thus the increased demand for technology workers represents a real opportunity for professionals from a range of other occupations to grow their incomes.”




Further information

Troy Steer
Director of Corporate Affairs and Public Policy
M – 0417 173 740
E – [email protected]

About ACS
ACS is the professional association for Australia's technology sector. More than 50,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. ACS exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. ACS strives technology professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on technology and related matters. Visit for more information.