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ACS launches Australia's Digital Pulse

Wednesday, 17 Jun 2015

ICT skills shortage points to enormous career opportunities. 

On 16 June the ACS in partnership with Deloitte Access Economics, launched a new report, Australia’s Digital Pulse, which shows that digital technologies is one of the fastest growing parts of Australia’s economy. It found its economic contribution grew in the past three years to a 5.1% share of our GDP – from $50 billion in 2011 to $79 billion in 2013-14.

The report found there has been 5% growth in the number of ICT professionals, with an increase to 600,000 ICT workers in 2014, and demand for a further 100,000 workers over the next six years. Despite the demand, the number of graduates with ICT qualifications has declined significantly since the early 2000s.

The report shows that Australia needs a workforce that is equipped with the ICT skills necessary to fuel its digitally-driven economic growth. This creates an enormous opportunity for students considering a career in ICT.

John O’Mahony, Deloitte Access Economics director said: “The contribution from ICT to Australia’s economy, and our successfully meeting our productivity challenges, are at risk if we don’t ensure there is an adequate workforce equipped with the necessary ICT skills. We urgently need to boost both awareness and opportunity around ICT skills development.”

“Despite the strong growth in demand, with a projected gap of more than 100,000 ICT workers in the next five years, and declining rates of ICT graduates, we are facing a serious problem.”

The report also found that, despite the influence of digital technologies on the next generation’s future career opportunities, Australian schools are well behind in the use of digital technologies within an education setting. Currently only 3% of Year 6 students frequently use ICT in schools for technical tasks.

ACS CEO Andrew Johnson added “An ICT career represents an outstanding job opportunity for graduates in the coming decade – students, parents and careers advisors should pay attention to this fact.

“We need to look beyond stereotypes and see the future ICT professional with new eyes, with digital disruption creating jobs requiring ICT skills within a diverse range of sectors and professions. The data shows there is huge versatility in ICT.”

Other key findings show:

  • Employment in the ICT sector is expected to grow by 2.5% per year over the next six years to 2020. Compared to employment for the economy as a whole, which is forecast to grow by 1.6%.
  • The gender pay gap in ICT stands at 20%, significantly lower than the workforce average of 34%.
  • 47% of all workers who studied ICT are now in other professions, such as advertising, marketing or accounting.
  • 43% of workers in ICT occupations studied courses other than ICT or engineering, such as commerce and management degrees
  • 52% of ICT workers are in industries outside ICT itself including professional services, public administration and financial services.
  • The highest growth rate in demand for ICT qualifications is forecast for postgraduates, with demand forecast to grow at 4.2% annually over the six years to 2020.

Productivity growth in the Australian economy will be increasingly driven by digital technology in the future, particularly as the mining boom wanes. The rapidly growing digital economy means that ICT skills will play an increasingly important role in future economic growth. Australia needs to ensure that its education system, policy settings and business practices are all working towards equipping the country’s workers with the required technological skills. This will ensure that the Australian workforce is well-placed to meet the future challenges associated with digital disruption.

The Solution

The report found that to address the major projected skills gap, it needs a multifaceted solution with government, businesses and education institutions and industry associations all playing a role.

As shown in the report, the ACS and Deloitte Access Economics recommended:

  • An increased national focus on growing Australia’s ICT capabilities and skills in the workforce
  • Federal and State governments accelerating the development and implementation of the Technologies component in the Australian Curriculum, with a particular focus on computing skills and training of teachers
  • Higher education institutions promote the strength and diversity of ICT related study and career paths to students
  • Businesses provide opportunities for employees to develop their ICT skills through on the job training, workshops, upskilling courses and other business development initiatives.

Brenda Aynsley, ACS President said: “It is high time that we have a stronger focus on Digital Technologies, particularly computational thinking and coding, in schools right from a foundation level, in order to prepare our next generation workforce for the future. Otherwise we are at high risk of falling behind the rest of the world in an increasingly globally connected economy.”

Australia’s Digital Pulse is a comprehensive analysis of the ICT sector and the economy (formerly known as the ICT Statistical Compendium).

Click HERE to view the report.