Global consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) is expecting to create 300 new jobs in Adelaide over 18 months as it opens a new ‘onshore delivery centre’.

The centre will bring local professional IT services such as cloud development and cyber security to Adelaide as a way of giving university students a pathway into industry.

CEO of PwC Australia, Tom Seymour, said the local centre would help students from Adelaide’s three universities to “gain a real edge” by working while they study.

“The initial focus of the centre is on cyber, cloud and financial audit services and this is a reflection of the high market need due to the skills shortage exacerbated by border closures,” he said in a statement.

“We expect to see significant growth over the first three to five years of the centre with a blend of experienced technical and managerial staff as well as a strong pipeline of junior staff with relevant technical qualifications.”

PwC is the latest large consultancy firm to set up shop in Adelaide following Accenture’s announcement last year that it was creating a ‘hub’ in the city that was expected to see 2,000 tech jobs arrive over the coming five years.

The two firms are among the largest recipients of government tenders for digital infrastructure, pointing toward a growing trend for outsourcing digital projects – something ACS CEO Rupert Grayston recently said was “a short-term solution that doesn’t help a longer-term problem”.

While acknowledging the importance of consultancies in “filling gaps” where government can’t provide certain services, Grayston warned the overuse of outsourcing could discourage the Australian Public Service (APS) from developing its own high-tech capabilities.

“Over reliance on consultants may mean that APS can’t develop its own in-house skills, and, if true, that would be at odds with the APS digital professional stream strategy,” Grayston said.

PwC is a major donor to both the Liberal and Labor parties.

Partner of PwC’s Adelaide office and former federal Liberal politician, Jamie Briggs, said the new Adelaide centre benefits the country by helping improve the national tech skills gap.

“[Students] can work and learn at the same time, and once they complete their course will have acquired in-demand skills which will make them very employable and help advance their careers, whether that’s at PwC Australia or elsewhere,” he said.

ACS’ annual Digital Pulse report last year recognised the need for developing local skills as digital technology benefitted the Australian economy to the tune of $126 billion in 2019 alone.