The Australian Computer Society expects the economy will require at least 100,000 more tech workers than is currently targeted by the federal government by 2030 to capitalise on nine critical technologies that are expected to shape the workforce.
The current target of reaching a tech worker population of 1.2 million by 2030 was initially proposed by the Technology Council of Australia and adopted by Labor ahead of last year’s election.
But in the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) ninth annual Digital Pulse Report, to be launched on Wednesday, new projections estimate 1.3 million tech workers will be needed by 2030.
Demand could be up to “1.4 million if Australia was to keep pace with growth overseas”, according to the report, which outlines the nation’s tech skill needs.
However, the ACS is calling on the government to shift its focus away from being focused on roles and towards considering the skills available in the economy, one of five key principles in the report produced in partnership with Deloitte.
“We have designed our education system to focus on producing people ready for certain roles with limited reskilling or upskilling, resulting in high numbers of workers with the outdated skills,” the report reads.
“Instead, we need to first and foremost identify and then build in-demand skills based on critical technologies shaping businesses and industries.”
As of 2022, the Digital Pulse report estimates there are 928,000 people in the Australian technology workforce — referred to as the ICT workforce in previous editions of Digital Pulse.
This figure includes workers who fall under ICT occupational classifications used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ranging from technical occupations such as software programming and electronic engineering to related roles in sales, management and operations.
To reach 1.3 million tech workers by 2030, an additional 445,000 workers are needed, the ACS said, which is a net increase of 60,000 each year.
This corresponds with a pool of “1.8 million skills needed by the Australian tech workforce to adapt to nine critical technologies, 1.3 million more than in 2022”. These skills range from communication skills and teamwork to cloud solutions, data analysis, and machine learning.
ACS chief executive Chris Vein highlighted that in order to effectively utilise the technologies that are changing the nature of the workforce, Digital Pulse forecasts found a need for 1.3 million additional skills which it suggests “Australia is not on track to achieve the growth in skills we need”.
The report notes that the lines between “tech functions and the rest of the professional workforce”, noting that in the future “every worker will be a tech worker in some way”.
In particular, the report flags that 75 per cent of working hours for Australian workers will be affected by nine critical technologies, including artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, robotics and sensors, and cybersecurity. It is expected that 95 per cent of the Australian workforce will require some kind of upskilling.
“This year’s Digital Pulse is not merely a call to action; it’s a robust, practical roadmap to build the nationwide tech skills we need. We have developed the most comprehensive projections around tech skills demand through to 2030 to date based on currently available information,” Mr Vein said.
The report also claims that big businesses alone are suffering from a $3.1 billion in losses each year due to a digital skills gap, a figure that could reach $16 billion in 2030.
“If the nation can get this right, we could be leading the world and guaranteeing our prosperity into the future. If we don’t seize the opportunity, we could well be left behind by the middle of the century,” Mr Vein said.
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