news The ACS – the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector – has published a report that revealing that “major shift” is underway in Australia’s economy, as employers seek workers with digital and other skills.
The report, entitled Australia’s Digital Pulse 2016, was researched and prepared in conjunction with Deloitte Access Economics using new LinkedIn data.
A key finding of the work, said the ACS, is that, with tertiary graduates currently making up just 1% of the ICT workforce (cited as being 628,000 currently), meeting the range of skills now being expected by employers will require a bigger focus on retraining the existing workforce.
“This must include a focus on encouraging more women and mature age workers to pursue ICT careers,” the ACS said.
According to the report, only 28% of the ICT workforce are women, compared to 43% across all professions, while just 11% are older workers – 4% less than in the general workforce.
The report further reveals that, for ICT specialists, six out of the top 10 skills now demanded by employers are non-technical, and involve areas such as project management, sales and customer service.
Conversely, for 2.5 million Australian workers in non-ICT roles, digital literacy is increasingly required by companies and organisations.
“LinkedIn’s data highlights that a significant and rapid skills transformation is happening in our economy,” said ACS President, Anthony Wong. “Responding to this challenge will require governments, employers and the education and training sector to work collaboratively and, importantly, to reassess current approaches to both training and recruitment.”
“A clear message from the report is that our economy now needs ICT specialists with creativity, entrepreneurship and strategic business skills, whilst non ICT workers increasingly require a base level of digital competency,” Wong added.
Clifford Rosenberg, Managing Director for LinkedIn in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, commented: “We are already seeing widespread digital disruption across key Australian industries which is leading to skill shifts. It is imperative that businesses train their employees with both tech skills and soft skills required for the digital economy.”
Analysis of 25 most-sought after skills in Australia shows that 17 are technology related, as more mainstream businesses integrate technology into their core business, he explained.
“Our data also shows that eight of the top 20 skills demanded by employers hiring new technology workers are broader than core technical skills such as relationship management, customer service, strategic planning and contract negotiation,” said Rosenberg.
Also in the report is a prediction that the digital economy will grow from 5% to 7% of GDP by 2020.
John O’Mahony, partner at Deloitte Access Economics, said: “The contribution of digital technologies to Australia’s economy is forecast to grow by 75% to 2020 and, needless to say, there is going to be strong demand for a workforce equipped to support this growth, and the opportunities that will come with it.”
The biggest driver of digital growth will be increased use of technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics, and other digital developments across all aspects of business by people traditionally considered non-ICT workers, he explained.
Deloitte’s analysis also shows that there is significant demand for technical roles, including in recently emerged areas, such as for specialists in cloud computing and cyber security.
“The report highlights how information technology is becoming embedded in all our products and services,” said Wong. “It forecasts strong growth in the digital economy to $139 billion by 2020, an increase of 75% since 2014. ICT employment is also expected to grow at 2% annually to 695,000 by 2020.
The ACS concluded by saying that, “[A]s we seek to transition the Australian economy to one based more on services and knowledge and less on mining investment, we will only be able to achieve that if we urgently address the skills mix in our workforce. ICT skills and digital literacy have never been more important to our economic success.”