Australia’s tech jobs are booming with more than 63,000 jobs created in just the last three years.
But to become a global ICT workforce leader, Australia needs an additional 200,000 tech workers.
According to ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse 2018, the leading report examining the local technology landscape, Deloitte Access Economics has projected Australia will need almost 100,000 tech workers in the next five years simply to keep pace.
An extra 100,000 jobs, that is, 200,000 in total, would make Australia a world leader.
The fourth annual Digital Pulse report was launched by the Hon Michael Keenan, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation, at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday afternoon.
Kathryn Matthews, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, said this year’s report compared Australia to 16 other developed economies.
L to R: ACS President Yohan Ramasundara, Minister Michael Keenan, Deloitte Access Economics Partner Kathryn Matthews, ACS CEO Andrew Johnson
“The key finding of this report is that Australia is middling. We’re somewhere in the middle of the pack of the 16 developed economies that we looked at," she said.
“And I don’t think anyone here thinks Australia is a middling economy. I think we can all aspire to do better.
“It’s a really competitive digital world. Other countries are also growing very, very rapidly – and we’re just standing still with that growth compared to our competitors."
Australia’s digital activity has grown, with the ICT workforce growing 3.5% to 663,100 in 2017, with about half of these people working outside the ICT sector itself.
However, Australia does not have enough graduates to fill the thousands of upcoming jobs, with our universities producing fewer than 5,000 domestic ICT undergraduates every year.
ICT services export have grown 60% in the past five years to reach $3.2 billion in 2016-17, and R&D by Australian businesses has increased by 50% to reach $6.6 billion in the same period.
However, these have failed to keep up with nations including the US, UK and Singapore.
Minister Michael Keenan launching ACS Australia's Digital Pulse 2018 at Parliament House
Minister Keenan said that we may feel like we’re doing a lot in Australia but that doesn’t mean we are keeping up internationally.
“When I hear Australia is middling, then no, that is not good enough. I don’t think any Australian is satisfied with that. And I can tell you that the Australian government is not satisfied with that. We need to accelerate our pace,” he said.
“The report sums it up – we are either going to be a driver of this new revolution, or we’re going to be a passenger.
“And I can tell you, we are not going to be a passenger.
"The Australian economy is the 13th largest in the world, and we need to be claiming our rightful place in this new, amazing technological age in which we live.”
Australia is falling behind in student STEM performance, and the number of women in the industry is below the national average for female participation. Women make up just 28% of ICT workers, a number that has not changed since the first Digital Pulse was released in 2015. Across all professional industries, females have a 45% representation.
ACS President Yohan Ramasundara and CEO Andrew Johnson also addressed the gathering.