The Federal Labor Government has backed the Tech Council of Australia’s (TCA’s) recommended path to creating an additional 650,000 local tech jobs, noting it will work with the tech sector “towards [achieving] shared goals” and meet surging industry demand for talent.
Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said the Federal Government would make tech “a top priority area”, supporting the creation of 465,000 fee-free TAFE places and additional 20,000 university places” to help Australia’s tecg industry meet a target of 1.2 million jobs by 2030.
He added that the Government would “create an environment for success by building our national training system, backing final year student and graduate entrepreneurs, and buying and making things in Australia”.
Husic said his “top priority” as industry and science minister would be to organise a roundtable with key stakeholders in the tech sector to collaborate and “work towards shared goals”.
Crucially, Husic said, the Government would act on the Tech Council’s five “calls for action”, including:
- increasing understanding and awareness of job opportunities, with the TCA report finding “Australians lack awareness of what tech jobs exist and how do get into them”;
- fixing gaps in education and training products and pathways, with the TCA noting that jobs are not always fit for purpose;
- improving the diversity of the tech workforce, with the peak body identifying “demographic skews in tech jobs, with women, older Australians and regional Australians being under-represented”;
- targeting skilled migration to areas of high need and greatest shortages, with the TCA noting Australia has only a small talent pool of people with requisite skills and experience;
- And, finally, improving industry-level supply and demand analysis, with Australia lacking a “coordinated effort, analysis and planning for the tech workforce”.
The Tech Council-authored report – which was born out of the Digital Employment Forum, launched in December last year and backed by the then Morrison Government, alongside industry and tertiary education partners – urged for “national action” to improve access to technology jobs.
Vacancy rates in tech sector jobs are 60 per cent higher than the national average, according to the report, and “forecast to grow at triple the rate”.
The report also revealed significant talent gaps, particularly for technical and experienced tech roles, with “severe shortages” in technical occupations such as software programmers and computer network professionals, as well as “big gaps” in commercial and creative roles such as product managers.
Husic noted Labor was, in March this year, the “first major political party to commit to the Tech Council’s 1.2 million jobs by 2030”, which at the time represented around 360,000 additional jobs.
With attrition and the tech talent crisis exacerbated by Covid border closers, this number has since blown out to 600,000.
“It’s a bigger goal, but you all know the goal changes, the target changes; you’ve just got to accommodate it, work with it. We will absolutely work to meet that,” Husic said.
Additionally, Husic said, the Government has also “committed to improving migration settings to support high productivity and wages in all sectors, including the tech sector”.
The report coincides with the Government’s introduction last week of legislation – the first by the Albanese Government – to create a new body “dedicated to understanding and addressing the nation’s skills crisis”.
The interim statutory body, to be known as ‘Jobs and Skills Australia’, will provide independent advice on current, emerging, and future workforce, skills, and training needs.
According to the Federal Government, the JSA will work closely with state and territory governments, as well as industry, employers, trade unions and training providers to ensure a shared understanding of the key issues facing Australia’s labour market.
Tech council recommendations
In its report, the Tech Council, the peak body for Australia’s tech industry, called on the Federal Government to work in tandem with the tech industry to:
- Deliver a new modern Australian Digital Apprenticeship, to better meet the future needs of tech jobs.
- Define skills standards and pathways into tech jobs.
- Better identify and recognise innovative training solutions.
- Improve support for women to transition into tech jobs.
- Conduct ongoing data analysis and tech workforce planning in conjunction with Jobs and Skills Australia.
The TCA also urged the Government to push forward with changes to skilled migration pathways, to ensure “areas of highest need and greatest demand” are better targeted.
The Council noted priority solutions in this category for:
- Streamlining skilled migration for high salary, experienced technical roles.
- Provide tech workers with pathways to permanent residency, and address barriers to work for international students studying tech-related courses in Australia.
TCA chief executive Kate Pounder stressed that technology jobs remain “critical to Australia’s future”.
“They are amongst the fastest-growing, best-paid, most secure, and most flexible jobs in Australia. They have half the gender pay gap of other high-paying industries.”
“These jobs are critical to every major industry in the Australian economy – as demonstrated by the broad range of employers and educators participating in the Digital Employment Forum, from sectors as diverse as retail, banking, mining, government, professional services, software and telecommunications, all with a shared vision to create pathways into jobs.”