Ron Gauci, CEO of The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), explores why technology offers a rewarding career with a bright future.

As the Australian economy slows and wages stagnate, it is reassuring to know that the technology industry continues to create new jobs. Students across Australia should consider a career in technology on National Techies Day, 3 October 2019, with the nation poised to undergo a tech jobs boom in the years ahead.

Australia’s demand for workers with digital skills is set to grow by almost 100,000 to 758,700 workers by 2023; in areas including artificial intelligence, data science, cyber security and blockchain. There are new jobs you’ll see today that didn’t even exist 15 years ago, such as an AI Engineer, App Developer, Drone Expert, Social Media Consultant, Driverless Car Engineer, User Experience Expert and Data Miner.

However, Australian universities are failing to produce enough IT graduates to meet forecast demand, according to figures from the Department of Education. With fewer than 5,000 domestic digital skills graduates a year, the Government has recognised an urgent need to upskill the Australian workforce.

To help bridge the skills gap and enable students to seize these opportunities, the Government is looking to establish the National Skills Commission to oversee a $2.8 billion annual investment in VET (Vocational Education and Training) Digital Skills.

This Government initiative will help address the continual concern from industry that a graduate from university is not job-ready. Very few graduates are job ready from day one, but the idea is that from the outset, the employer, the student and the establishment – with some Government subsidy – work together to ensure our students are gaining the right skills for the job as they progress through their studies.

The National Skills Commission will provide opportunities for the workforce to learn practical skills by driving long-term reform in the VET sector. It will do this by identifying future skills priorities across industry, including those arising from technology such as automation and AI.

The National Skills Commission will also oversee pilot Skills Organisations that embed industry in the development of training products and ensure training meets industry needs.

The ultimate goal is to establish a higher education apprenticeship program for IT students to ensure greater collaboration — and potential funding — between universities and employers before students enter the workforce.

If Australia can meet this challenge and digitally skill-up its workforce, it has the potential to gain an additional annual GDP through automation technologies of between $170 billion to

$600 billion by 2030.

To truly prosper, Australia’s future workforce will require not only new digital and technical qualifications, but also values such as accountability and honesty, and behaviours including adaptability, collaboration and resilience.

History has shown that we can fear advancement or embrace it, technology and automation surprises us with new opportunities for productivity, growth and prosperity. Anticipating the skills needed for the jobs of the future now will position Australians well for the career opportunities that lie ahead in IT.

Contact: Ron Gauci

Phone: 1300 665 145