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Tech jobs alone won’t fix the skills crisis

By Nathan Gower | |6 minute read

There are currently 935,000 technology jobs in Australia, putting the country on track to reach the government-backed Tech Council of Australia’s ambition of reaching 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030.

However, according to the Australian Information Industry Association’s (AIIA) latest report, lack of tech talent remains the biggest inhibitor to business growth, at 44 per cent. Australian organisations are hungry to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and crack down on cyber security practices but are roadblocked by the skills deficit.

To advance economic growth, the role of tech in innovation and research and development (R&D) is undeniable. But while we progress towards the desired heights for tech jobs, Australia is still woefully under-represented in skills availability.


My conversations with local executives back this narrative – staff shortages and skills gaps in technology are some of their biggest impediments to long-term innovation.

It’s clear we have a long road ahead to address Australia’s widening chasm between the demand and supply of technical talent. Yet, there are some ways in which to close this gap.

Catering to tight talent availability

While the technology industry has been known to pour glitter into the workplace to keep employees loyal and motivated – think farm-to-table cooked breakfast, lunchtime exercise classes, and extra holiday leave – it’s an unrealistic long-term strategy, especially amid economic headwinds.

However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that employees just want the simplicity of a good workplace where they are valued, given resources to fuel their ongoing professional development, and have flexibility. Less frills, more genuine business structures and technology frameworks that support their lifestyles and work.

For example, according to job platform SEEK, “work from home” has been the most popular search term for months now. Last year, job ads that mentioned the term were 11 times higher than the 2019 record of 1,200 per month.

This is why skilled IT professionals, in most cases, are being left to choose where they want to work. As organisations encourage a cross-section of departments back into the office, many are hesitant to force their IT professionals to follow suit. It’s just not worth the risk of losing them to a more flexible competitor.

Build it, and they will come

Here, we arrive at the importance of technology structures that support IT pros in their day-to-day. To foster a thinking mindset, sparing IT pros from configuring, monitoring, and managing software and data can go a long way towards pushing their potential and the businesses’ innovation agenda forward.

With so many touch points in a technology ecosystem, removing the operational burdens of maintaining architecture where it could otherwise be automated helps retain technical staff as they’re liberated to work on innovative projects. The grunt work needs to happen in the background, with applications integrated and communicating data automatically to ensure the business runs as it should without straining already scarce IT resources.

It also boosts recruitment initiatives and provides opportunities for skills development, as prospective hires won’t have their talents wasted on menial tasks.

With a shortage of skills to draw from, redirecting valuable IT resources to more innovative, business-value-driven projects will not only increase job satisfaction but also drive agility and rigour in an economy desperate for technological advancement.

Democratising tech skills

For companies, nurturing digital skills leads to improved products and services that are unique to their business and provide a competitive advantage in the market. Fostering a workforce of highly skilled professionals also means employers don’t need to break the bank when the market shifts and changes become necessary.

Additionally, while organisations double down on their initiatives to hire and retain technology talent, the democratisation of development will be a breath of fresh air. This means involving a cross-section of people from the business, not just IT.

In today’s digital economy, technology is at the heart of every company, so it makes sense to bring businesspeople in. Their collaboration with technology teams allows organisations to come up with more business-minded solutions. After all, many technologies used by employees to manage everyday workflows are designed to be used by anyone.

This approach also opens the doors to reskilling existing employees internally to help fill IT shortages. According to Equinix, more than 80 per cent of Australian businesses are already doing this.

While the long game is to bring talent back in-house to foster purposeful innovation, with a shortage of skills to draw from, retaining and developing staff is critical for an organisation’s success.

By offering supportive business structures and technology frameworks, as well as opportunities to upskill and reskill existing talent, Australian organisations can better attract and keep the necessary talent needed in order to accelerate economic growth.

By Nathan Gower, director for Australia and New Zealand at Boomi