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A new generation is killing the tech stereotypes of the 90s

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In the 1980s and 1990s, Hollywood did perhaps one of the greatest disservices to the development of the global technology sector and, in particular, to the career advancement of generations of young people.

Still, at that moment, I had to laugh with everyone else as the “computer geeks” and “electronics” made their way across the silver screen, forming the comedic antithesis of stereotypical heroes like Travolta’s “Danny Zuko” in Grease.

Perhaps it was only art imitating life at the time. However, attempts to unravel the mythology of the “tech world” are a career aspiration limited to the anti-hero cast of Revenge of the Nerds has lasted more than a generation.

It has taken decades and more than a few ‘Bill Gates’ and ‘Mike Cannon-Brookes’ for Australian students and graduates to see the modern technology sector as the anvil on which to forge a dynamic and well-paid career.

This has been part of the Digital Skills Organization (DSO) mission since its inception in 2020 as one of the recommendations stemming from the Skills Reinforcement – Expert Assessment of the Australian Vocational Education and Training System report by the Hon Stephen Joyce.

Since its inception, the DSO has championed an employer-led, skills-based approach that recognizes that digital skills are necessary for everyone and every employer, techies and non-techies.

By connecting employers with training providers, DSO is developing new ways of training to equip students and employees with the skills needed to face a rapidly changing, technological future.

Its mission is to make digital skills and technology careers faster and more accessible to more people, regardless of background, education or experience.

Without a serious effort on the part of industry, educators and government, Australia could be left behind, dogged by sluggish growth and development in a world where investment in the technology sector is growing at a breakneck pace. The ultimate impact this will have on jobs, investment and productivity is huge.

The cost of doing nothing

The opportunity cost of inaction is that Australia has the potential to become one of the biggest tech industry powerhouses in our region, if not the world.

It may sound unrealistic, but Australia is already becoming a world leader in the technology sector. With the right investment in training, both in funding and in introducing faster ways to train, plus industrial partnerships, our country has the potential to create thousands of jobs and billions of tech jobs in economic activity over the next decade.

This is a trend we’ve been seeing for over a decade. Since 2005, jobs in the tech industry have grown by 66%, compared to an average job growth of 27% across the economy.

In fiscal 2021, despite the economic devastation of a global pandemic, the tech sector contributed $167 billion to the Australian economy – that’s 8.5% of GDP.

During the 2021 fiscal year, 861,000 Australians were employed in the technology sector. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the tech sector generated 65,000 jobs; the economy’s second-highest job creator behind retail.

In the short term, by 2030, the technology sector has the potential to contribute more to GDP than primary industries or manufacturing.

However, as a nation, we need the ticker to seize these opportunities and put them into practice.

A 2021 Accenture report found that Australia will need an additional 60,000 Australians over the next five years to retrain and enter the tech sector to meet demand, and an additional 12,000 students coming directly from their studies. enter technical jobs.

That now calls for action.

We need the new Albanian government to stick to its pre-election commitment to help boost tech jobs as the building blocks of our ‘new economy’. Ahead of the election, the Prime Minister dedicated a new Labor government to the vision of having more than a million people in tech jobs by 2030.

It is a welcome commitment that requires an overarching strategy, supported by a common language that provides clarity on priorities. A flexible and flexible approach to training is needed that meets the needs of employers and learners by bringing together traditional and non-traditional forms of education, such as micro-credentials and standards. It will also be critical that we increase digital literacy across the population.

It’s been a long time since I saw the ‘nerds’ of the ’80s turn-the-tables on the ‘jocks’ class in Revenge of the Nerds. Since then I have had an extensive career in both the British Army and the Australian Defense Force and have shifted my career to the tech sector with my focus now on training, stakeholder management and digital transformation.

Over the years I have spoken with many colleagues from different backgrounds and often found ourselves returning to conversations about the future landscape of the Australian workforce and how it affects our children’s future careers.

There are so many opportunities for young Australians to lead the tech world. Now, more than ever, I think we should all be motivated to expand that conversation to inspire young Australians and, in the process, demystify careers in technology.

Contrary to the cultural stereotypes of the past few decades, there’s no reason one of our kids couldn’t be the founder of the next “tech unicorn.” What we need is the right conversations, the right training and the right leadership to make it a national reality.

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