A leading Australian scientist says the the deeper technical skills most likely to be required in Australia’s digital future will be architecting, designing and analysing and will be in heavy demand to apply information technology to every business sector.
Hugh Durrant-Whyte, professor and ARC Federation Fellow at the University of Sydney and the former CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA)—writing a new report from the Council for Economic Development of Australia, (CEDA)—says many of these roles will be with existing non-IT companies especially banks, insurance and other financial services, and engineering, especially energy and resources, health and social services, media and entertainment.
"This reflects the fact that the major role of information technology in Australia is to transform existing companies and existing ways of doing business," he says. "Especially in these non-IT companies, creative application of technology to solving problems will be required of all staff and thus all will need a working knowledge of technology and how it can be used in business—like reading and writing, this will be fundamental in all jobs.
"Retraining and additional training for graduates with other STEM qualifications need to be a major part of creating an information technology jobs pool for existing businesses."
Durrant-Whyte made the comments in his contributed chapter, one of many in CEDA's 258 page report Australia’s future workforce? Summarising the report, CEDA CEO, professor Stephen Martin, said that CEDA chose to examine the issue of Australia’s future workforce as its major research project for 2015 because "Technology is going to dramatically reshape our workforce in coming years and the nation’s ability to rapidly adapt to technological change, and even more importantly, innovate, will be paramount for job creation and our future economic success."
Durrant-Whyte's comments were echoed in the chapter from Sue Beitz, an independent consultant with long experience in developing public policy across the fields of workplace relations, employment policy and education policy.
She cited the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) pointing to the growing importance of STEM skills in the labour market. "Between 2006 and 2011 the total number of people (both with and without higher level STEM qualifications) employed in the 10 most common STEM occupations grew 14 percent. This was greater than the nine percent growth across all other occupation groups."
She also noted the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency's report into the future demand for ICT skills. It found that "ICT skills and capabilities are important for all workers, not just those engaged in specialist ICT roles [and] digital literacy needs to be included as a core component of school education, both in terms of content and delivery, as distinct from the teaching of specialised ICT, technology and computer science subjects."
In the UK, a Digital Skills Taskforce developed a framework for discussing the skills required as skills become more pervasive across the labour market and society in general and used this framework to analyse all of the 361 standard occupation codes covering the entire 30 million people employed in the UK.
Beitz said: "The analysis—which shows that almost everyone in the workforce will in the future need the ability to use technology to do their job—led to the recommendation that digital literacy be a core component of the school curriculum, alongside English and maths."
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