Australian productivity and wage growth levels are crawling along at a sluggish pace – but there’s one sector that can’t seem to hire fast enough.
A new report from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) has highlighted a drastic shortage in Australia’s technology sector, which will need an additional 100,000 workers by 2024.
The forecasted growth rate of the tech sector is 2.3 per cent, which exceeds growth forecast for the Australian workforce overall at 1.3 per cent per annum for the next five years.
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Plugging that gap has been described as a “huge challenge”, requiring a number of shifts in policy – but the pay rise for workers from other industries who have reskilled to meet demand for tech skills would actually be more than $11,000 per employee every year, according to the 2019 ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse report.
“The wages of workers in other professional industries, including business-related fields, could be a relevant comparison point to technology worker wages,” it said.
“Under this approach, the average benefit is estimated to be around $11,100 per year – the difference between the average annual wage earned by technology workers (around $100,700 in 2018) and workers employed in professional industries ($89,600).”
Regular Australians stand to benefit from a booming tech sector, too: the digital industry’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow by 40 per cent between 2018 and 2023.
“That translates into the equivalent of an extra $2,500 for every person in Australia every year.”
Where will the job gaps be?
The majority of growth forecasted for the technology sector is slated to be in ICT management, operations and technical occupations.
Meanwhile, we’re expected to need 17,900 more software and applications programmers between 2018 and 2024, as well as management and organisation analysts (+12,200) and other information and organisation professionals (+10,600).
There will also be a greater need for more qualified IT professionals, with a rising demand for tech workers with postgraduate, undergraduate and diploma or advanced diploma degrees.
How do we fill the gaps?
According to the report, it won’t be enough to just wait for the next generation of IT graduates to enter the workforce.
Instead, we have to tempt people currently in the workforce to switch jobs – and this requires greater investment in developing workers’ tech skills.
“Investment in reskilling will not only enable immediate skills shortages to be met, but will also ensure that Australia has the digital talent required to seize new opportunities created by the fourth industrial revolution and upcoming waves of digital disruption,” the report said.
And in order to kick-start productivity and growth of the economy overall, Australia will also need to invest in new technologies, as well as better facilitate the current startup landscape and remove tax barriers.
“To successfully implement emerging technologies in these industries, workers will need both industry specialisation and technical ICT skills,” said the report.
“Reskilling existing workers in these industries will enable them to combine specialist technical knowledge with the digital skills required, facilitating innovation and efficiency gains as new technologies are integrated into existing operations and roles.”
The future of work will be discussed at the Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit, which will take place on the 26th September 2019 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda here.