Australia trains more fitness than IT professionals


blog From the thought-provoking blog of REA Group chief information officer Nigel Dalton and his consulting colleague James Pierce comes the news that Australia is currently training many more fitness instructors than IT professionals. A couple of shocking statistics:

“Australian employers get access to maybe 4500 ICT grads every year, whereas the Aussie fitness industry is over-run by 8,163 fresh grads every year. There are twice as many personal trainers as ICT graduates entering the Australian workforce every year!”

We won’t speculate whether this has anything to do with the current popularity of shows like The Biggest Loser, but it certainly is disturbing. What it says, essentially, is that Australia is broadly more focused on its own lifestyle choices — staying fit and keeping healthy — than on knowledge-worker careers such as working in IT, despite the fact that the IT profession obviously offers a much more extensive career path and quite likely higher overall earning potential than working as a fitness instructor. Fitness instruction is also not really going to contribute towards Australia’s export potential.

Sounds like we really need to get incentivising people to get into IT — as chief executive Matt Barrie has recently been suggesting. Of course, I’m not personally the poster child for becoming an IT professional — I left my career as a systems administrator a decade ago to become a journalist instead and write about all of your exploits ;)


  1. If IT can shed the image of having to be stuck in helpdesk/support and being up to the elbows in server innards, maybe it will get an uptick in interest.

    Interesting that the perception differs in Aus vs the US in this; IT there = Facebook, Twitter etc, here it’s doing monkey work….

  2. This might be stating the obvious, but the “academic ability” barriers to entry to ICT are likely higher than the ones required to be a personal trainer.

    • And the pay and promotion ones are possibly worse. Especially as it seems that management positions are now filled purely with management degree holders (PMs, MBAs, etc).

      And working conditions deteriorate in an ever diminishing path towards ‘greater efficiency’.

      • ‘greater efficiency’ *cough* I rarely see it from those with some of those qualifications. But I will admit, a rare one happens along occasionally and stuns us out of our cynicism.

  3. I kind of expected a satirical piece about home and away/neighbours leading our youth astray with unrealistic tales of beautiful partners throwing themselves at you and upper middle class salaries on gym instructor/PT wages and heaps of free time to lay on the beach/hang out at the local cafe.
    …I’ve been spending too much time at lately :P

    • +1

      I think outsourcing jobs overseas has been the death of the Australian IT industry. Fix that problem and people will come back to IT.

  4. Fitness instructor = likely to get laid with hot women. IT professional = likely to be blanked by hot looking women. It’s a cultural thing here – fit, tanned people with time to go to the gym and the beach are broadly considered to have the most desirable lifestyle. IT pros are broadly thought of as ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’ with pasty skin and zero sex appeal, if you’re smarter than average you’re bullied at school and ridiculed as an adult because culturally Australians feel threatened by anyone who doesn’t fit their prosaic, clichéd version of normality.

    Compare that to Silicon Valley in the US – there IT Pros drive hyper cars, live in million dollar mansions and attract stunning women, because they aren’t just accepted culturally there, their lives are what people aspire to.

    You want more people in IT here, you need to show them it’s worthwhile. Today the smart money is on dropping out of school and working in the mining industry, where electricians are making $150k pa and truck drivers are making over $100k. Do that for a few years and you’re set for life.

    IT has achieved a bad reputation as an uncertain career path, with redundancies and tremdous outsourcing over the past decade. Brilliant people go to the US or Europe where there are real jobs in Engineering.

    IT in Australia is hard work, it’s unstable, it’s often unrewarding and unappreciated and it is frequently underpaid.

    I once worked for a certain multinational and all of the corporate ‘sales’ guys in the Perth office were from non-IT backgrounds, and there was no career path to their jobs (some of the best paid jobs in the company). These guys were utterly incompetent and down at the project team level we were constantly having to clean up after their mistakes. That sort of culture is what causes disillusionment in your staff, seeing idiots who couldn’t hold a candle to their skills being paid four times what they are. That kind of culture is, again, pretty endemic in Australia.

  5. Comparing WEEKS of training with YEARS of training, and of course the differences in costs you would expect with such markedly different course lengths.

  6. “ICT grads” is that University graduates vs Fitness Institute grads?
    There’s probably more hairdresser grads then both lots

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