Victoria will need 40,000 extra IT employees over the next six years in order to meet demand in 2020, according to new data from the Australian Computer Society and Deloitte Access Economics released today.
The data comes after the release of a recent report commissioned by ACS titled Australia’s Digital Pulse, which found that an extra 100,000 workers will be needed over the next six years to meet demand from companies.
According to the new local data, Victoria’s IT sector will grow by an additional 3.2 percent each year over the next six years – higher than the national average found in the Australia’s Digital Pulse report.
This will largely be due to the predicted growth in IT management jobs as a number of organisations are expected to base their organisations in Victoria. This was recently helped by Square announcing that they open an Australian office in Melbourne, and said they chose the city because of its “growing reputation as Australia’s technology hub”.
“Victoria has a large number of highly skilled workers, and as a result the state is an attractive place for leading edge companies to do business. What this report shows is that state based programs can deliver real results and because of this we are seeing the digital economy in Victoria reaching new heights,” ACS Victoria Chair, Craig Horne, said.
A serious shortage to meet demand
While there is high demand nationally, the ACS report has found a massive problem – we’re not creating enough graduates to meet demand, forcing companies to fill the skills gap by hiring people overseas.
Despite showing small levels of growth since 2009, the number of students enrolling in and completing their IT degrees are significantly lower than its peak during the “dot-com boom”.
The shortage has resulted in a weak graduate pipeline, with some companies disappointed in the quality and quantity. Businesses also fear that the skill shortage in Australia could make it harder to find those with more technical capabilities rather than general IT skills.
While there are signs that interest is sparking again, the authors note that the sectors still suffer from an image problem of “predominantly male ICT professionals engaged in desk-bound, repetitive, isolating jobs.”
So what does the plan say is the best way to reverse the skill shortage? Education. Education. Education.
They would like to see primary schools to start teaching basic digital literacy and computing skills, and ask the Federal and State governments to accelerate implementation of the Technologies component of the Australian Curriculum. They also want universities to promote the strength and diversity of IT study and career paths; and businesses to provide more opportunities for employees to develop their ICT skills.
“Australia needs to ensure that its education system, policy settings and business practices are all working towards equipping our workers with the required technological skills,” the report says.
“This will ensure that the Australian workforce is well-placed to meet the future challenges associated with digital disruption.”
Disclaimer: Terence Huynh is a student at Monash University Clayton studying Software Engineering.