Australia’s ICT skills mix must change: report

digital skills

A major skills shift is underway in our economy, with ICT specialists increasingly expected to have non-technical skills such as project management, sales and customer service skills, while Australians in non-ICT roles must also be digitally literate.

These are some of the findings of the 2016 ‘Australia’s Digital Report’, commissioned by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.

The report highlighted a major problem with our future ICT skills base, with tertiary graduates currently representing only 1 per cent of the ICT workforce of 628,000. In order to meet the skills mix demanded by employers, there will need to be far stronger focus on retraining and reskilling the existing workforce, including encouraging more women and mature age workers to pursue ICT careers.

“LinkedIn’s data highlights that a significant and rapid skills transformation is happening in our economy. esponding to this challenge will require governments, employers and the education and training sector to work collaboratively and, importantly, to reassess current approaches to both training and recruitment,” said ACS president Anthony Wong.

“The ACS has an important role to play in this skills transformation task. A clear message from the Report is that our economy now needs ICT specialists with creativity, entrepreneurship and strategic business skills whilst non ICT workers increasingly require a base level of digital competency.”

Clifford Rosenberg, managing director, LinkedIn in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, said: “Analysis of the 25 hottest skills in Australia shows that 17 of the most sought-after are technology related as more mainstream businesses integrate technology into their core business. Our data also shows that eight of the top 20 skills demanded by employers hiring new technology workers are broader than core technical skills such as relationship management, customer service, strategic planning and contract negotiation.”

Deloitte Access Economics partner, John O’Mahony, said that the contribution of digital technologies to Australia’s economy is forecast to grow by 75 per cent to 2020, to $139 billion.

“The biggest driver of digital growth will be the greater use of digital technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics, and other such developments in all aspects of business by people traditionally considered non-ICT workers. But our analysis also shows that there is significant demand for technical roles, including in areas that only emerged in recent years, such as cloud computing specialists and cyber security,” O’Mahony said.

ICT employment is expected to grow at 2 per cent annually to 695,000 by 2020.

“Whilst this strong growth is welcome, the Report provides a timely reminder that as we seek to transition the Australian economy to one based more on services and knowledge and less on mining investment, we will only be able to achieve that if we urgently address the skills mix in our workforce,” said Wong.

“ICT skills and digital literacy have never been more important to our economic success.  And an important dimension of this challenge, and one which is a high priority for the ACS, is to encourage more women and mature age workers into the ICT workforce.”

Currently only 28 per cent of the ICT workforce is female, compared to 43 per cent across all professions, and only 11 per cent are mature aged workers compared to 15 per cent across the total workforce.

To access the ‘Australia’s Digital Pulse’ report, click here.

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