For Australia to position itself as an international leader in digital skills and employment would require an extra 100,000 ICT jobs – in addition to the 100,000 already forecast over the next 5 years, according to new data released by ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector.
Its 2018 Australia’s Digital Pulse report found that Australia’s ICT workforce grew from 640,800 workers in 2016 to 663,100 workers in 2017, an increase of 3.5%.
Prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, the report forecasts demand for ICT workers to grow with the Australian economy requiring an additional 100,000 workers (to 758,700) by 2023.
“The demand for digital skills in our economy is exploding,” said ACS President Yohan Ramasundara. “The growth of artificial intelligence, automation and the internet of things is driving significant disruption across all industries, and highly trained ICT professionals are in more demand than ever before.”
“If we want to be competitive in the world economy, we need to invigorate the education and training sectors to increase Australia’s ICT talent pool,” he added.
The report also reviewed Australia’s international competitiveness in ICT, finding the country is in the middle of the pack without any movement over the last five years.
Deloitte Access Economics Partner Kathryn Matthews flagged early warning signs that Australia could end up a mere passenger on the digital journey, with other countries poised to take the steering wheel, which could have flow‐on impacts on productivity and living standards.
“Australia ranks 12th out of the 16 countries on business expenditure on research and development in ICT when R&D is examined as a share of a country’s overall gross domestic product,” she said.
“Couple this with falling behind in the supply of ICT skills in the current workforce and on STEM performance in schools, we cannot afford to be complacent.”
Using data as a tool for policy development
In addition, the study found that Australia performs poorly compared to other countries on the availability of open government data overall, which limits the potential for value creation in using this data for other applications.
“This must change because the aggregate direct and indirect value of government data in Australia is up to $25 billion per annum,” urged the report authors. “State governments
in Victoria, NSW and SA are already using data to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of policy making, and continue to work at overcoming challenges such as data quality and data literacy in the public service.”