A report from Deloitte Access Economics and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) says there will be demand for 100,000 ICT workers over the next six years, but the number of graduates with ICT skills coming out of universities has declined significantly since 2000.
In addition, it says almost half of those who studied ICT at universities are in non-ICT roles, such as advertising, accounting or marketing, and 43 percent of people in ICT roles studied courses other than ICT or engineering, such as commerce and management degrees. "The highest growth rate in demand for ICT qualifications is forecast for postgraduates, with demand forecast to grow at 4.2 percent annually over the six years to 2020," the report says.
The report Australia’s Digital Pulse: Key challenges for our nation – digital skills, jobs and education shows that Australia needs a workforce that is equipped with the ICT skills necessary to fuel its digitally-driven economic growth. This, it says "creates an enormous opportunity for students considering a career in ICT. " It forecasts employment in the ICT sector to grow by 2.5 percent per year over the next six years to 2020, compared to an overall employment growth of 1.6 percent annually over the same period.
Deloitte Access Economics' director, John O’Mahony, said: “The contribution from ICT to Australia’s economy, and our successfully meeting our productivity challenges, are at risk if we don’t ensure there is an adequate workforce equipped with the necessary ICT skills. We urgently need to boost both awareness and opportunity around ICT skills development.”
ACS CEO, Andrew Johnson, added: “We need to look beyond stereotypes and see the future ICT professional with new eyes, with digital disruption creating jobs requiring ICT skills within a diverse range of sectors and professions. The data shows there is huge versatility in ICT.”
ACS president, Brenda Aynsley, added: “It is high time that we had a stronger focus on Digital Technologies, particularly computational thinking and coding, in schools right from a foundation level, in order to prepare our next generation workforce for the future.
The report said a multifaceted solution was needed to address the ICT skills shortage, one in which government, businesses and education institutions and industry associations all played a role.
- an increased national focus on growing Australia’s ICT capabilities and skills in the workforce;'
- federal and state governments accelerating the development and implementation of the technologies component in the Australian Curriculum, with a particular focus on computing skills and training of teachers;
- higher education institutions promoting the strength and diversity of ICT related study and career paths to students;
- businesses providing opportunities for employees to develop their ICT skills through on-the-job training, workshops, upskilling courses and other business development initiatives.
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