The Australian government has once again recognised an ICT skills shortage with the release of new data about which jobs the country needs most.

Last week, the National Skills Commission (NSC) published its first Skills Priority Occupation List, measuring the current and projected future demand for 800 jobs listed under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

IT jobs accounted for nearly 10 per cent of those in the highest demand category meaning there is a current national shortage and strong future demand.

Specifically, these roles are: multimedia specialist, developer programmer, software engineer, ICT security specialist, and ICT project manager.

Most of these jobs also feature on the government’s Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List – a list of jobs the government is targeting for its migration program as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

That list was updated last month to include more ICT-specific roles.

Not all jobs categorised as currently in national shortage are on the migration priority list which once again signals how the growing need for ICT skills is not necessarily being met through local training.

Similarly, accountants, surveyors, and engineers are all occupations with national shortages that the government is looking to fill with migrants, while it does not prioritise migration for trades with skills shortages like chefs, electricians, and butchers.

In a recent speech Philip Lowe, Governor of the Reserve Bank, mentioned migration as a key factor affecting wage growth – sometimes negatively – although continuing high wages for IT jobs suggests it has been less impactful in that sector.

“Hiring overseas workers to overcome bottlenecks allows firms to hire the people they need to operate effectively, and to expand and invest,” Lowe said.

“This benefit was clearly evident during the resources boom, and there are a wide range of businesses and industries that have benefited from hiring foreign workers.

“Without this ability, output in Australia would have been lower.”

Based on the NSC’s priority list, there will continue to be demand for IT skills in the coming years.

Web developers, systems and network administrators, and software testers are among the ICT roles without recognised national shortages but for which the NSC expects strong demand in the future.

Another of the jobs in that category – analyst programmer – is featured on the priority migration list despite that lack of shortage.

The IT-related jobs with the lowest priority categorisation are more business-centric roles such as ICT account manager, ICT business development manager, and ICT sales representative.

For each of these roles there is no current shortage and only moderate expected future demand.

At the bottom of the skilled occupation priority list are agricultural and farm workers which, from cotton growers to dairy farmers, Australia has neither a shortage of – nor projected future demand for – according to the NSC.

There is also no shortage of machine operators, emergency service workers, fire fighters, detectives, police officers, and debt collectors, with each occupation also expected to have soft future demand.

The bottom of the list also echoes broader technological and social changes with movie picture projectionist, and television and radio presenters all experiencing soft future demand.