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ICT sector grows, ICT graduates decline

graph rise and fall

A new report has highlighted digital technologies as one of Australia’s fastest growing sectors, with findings revealing the sector’s economic contribution has grown by $29 billion in the last few years.

Australia’s Digital Pulse, a new report released by the ACS – the Professional Association for Australia’s ICT Sector, in partnership with Deloitte Access Economics, found the information and communications technology (ICT) sector has grown in size to become 5.1 per cent of Australia’s GDP. The share grew from $50 billion in 2011 to $79 billion in 2013-14.

The report revealed that, while the ICT sector has grown and there has been a 5 per cent rise in the number of ICT professionals, the number of ICT graduates has actually dropped from the early 2000s.

“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,” Deloitte Access Economics director John O’Mahony said.

“Despite the strong growth in demand, with a projected gap of more than 100,000 ICT workers in the next five years, and declining rates of ICT graduates, we are facing a serious problem.”

Nevertheless, the employment numbers are expected to go up in the next six years. The ICT sector is forecast to grow at a rate of 2.5 per cent p.a. to 2020, which compares to the 1.6 per cent growth rate expected for the economy as a whole.

The report suggests a stronger national focus on ICT capabilities and skills in the workforce; a Federal and State government push on the development and implementation of tech in the country’s curriculum; the promotion of ICT-related studies and careers from higher education institutions; and a rise in businesses providing ICT skills training, workshops and initiatives for employees is needed.

“It is high time that we have 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,” ACS President Brenda Aynsley said.

“Otherwise we are at high risk of falling behind the rest of the world in an increasingly globally connected economy.”