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The Census Reveals The Number Of IT Qualified Australians Has Soared Over 5 Years, But There Is Still A Huge Skills Gap

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The last tranche of data from last year mostly online censuswhich was released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) after 14 months of analysis, more than 334,000 ICT professionals and managers have been identified in the workforce – an increase of 86,000 since the previous census five years ago.

The most popular occupations, according to the ABS figures, were ICT support and test engineers (up 54 percent to 15,635 people); Software and Application Programmers (up 47 percent to 116,927 people); ICT business and systems analysts (up 47 percent to 34,793 people); and database and system administrators, and IT security specialists (up 45 percent to 34,293 people).

Security science was Australia’s fastest growing qualification – up 460 percent to 5,805 people – while the number of people with AI qualifications doubled to 630.

The figures also pointed to the persistent gender gap in the industry, with only one in five ICT professionals and managers identifying as female – although, promisingly, the figure was significantly higher among workers under the age of 30, with one in three employees in that group identified as female.

The new data “reflects the increasing prominence of Australia’s digital economy,” said Australian statistician Dr. David Gruen when the ABS launched a wide range of new Census data – which also showed that 2.5 million Australians working from home on the day of the census; those are Australians working fewer hours average; and which Software and Application Programmer has: climbed into the Top 20 professions in Australia.

Rising demand for programmers has seen Australia tap into the global workforce, with two-thirds of software and application programmers reporting being born abroad – and 24,000 programmers arriving here since 2016.

That figure made programmers the third most common occupation for recent overseas arrivals, with Indians representing the largest cohort of foreign-born developers — in line with recent efforts to boost migration from that country by mutual recognition of IT qualifications.

The numbers also reflected a dramatic shift from pre-digital professions such as keyboard operators – of which there were just 41,000 last year, compared to 170,000 stenographers and typists 50 years ago.

Targeted relief for gaping skills

Identifying the areas of strongest demand is key to helping the industry refine its strategies for boosting its skilled workers pipeline – and the new numbers suggest the industry still has a lot of work ahead of it.

Previous analyzes have shown that Australia will need an additional 653,000 tech workers by 2030 — meaning reaching that target would require the addition of 81,625 IT workers per year through 2030.

However, the ABS figures confirm that current development initiatives have taken five years to reach that milestone, suggesting that current qualification programs need to be accelerated fivefold to meet the industry’s development goals.

For its part, the cybersecurity industry has added 4,500 professionals in five years, but will increase sixfold as it goes boost numbers with 30,000 between now and 2026, as industry figures have suggested, is necessary.

Since simply importing more employees won’t close the skills gap, the numbers show how important it is for business, academia and government to to collaborate to meet the demand for digital skills.

The new numbers “illustrate how important the technology sector is to the Australian economy and wider society,” ACS CEO Chris Vein noted that this week his new Guide to the IT professions report indicating which jobs are in increasing demand.

“Nearly all businesses, government departments and civil society organizations depend on IT to deliver services and maintain the country’s high standard of living,” said Vein.

“The strong growth in key technology roles will only continue – while at the same time we see increasing demand for new, emerging data and cybersecurity-focused positions as the industry evolves. There is much more to do in this space.”

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