Having closed its borders in the midst of COVID-19, Australia has been battling an ever-widening gap in tech skills. A country once landing over 100,000 skilled migrants each year (many of them headed towards ICT roles) such closures have nearly stopped this stream of talent altogether – that is, until the recent re-opening of borders earlier this year.
With “Fortress Australia” now ready to welcome new skills abroad, what can our current tech sector expect in recruiting for the near future?
We break down the impact of re-opened borders on the hiring of ICT skills below, and how training with programs like AIICT’s can help in addressing the shortage.
A WIDER POOL OF IT TALENT
As an industry already dealing with growing skill shortages pre-pandemic, Australia’s IT field took an even greater hit amidst lockdowns – with workers ever-more reliant on digital platforms and systems to keep business afloat. According to Bridget Loudon, founder and chief executive of Expert360, this “accelerated Australia’s digital transformation”, leading to greater demand for tech skills in software engineering, digital marketing, business analysis, software design, and more.
While shut borders may have stunted the sector’s ability to source overseas talent, companies now have the chance to compensate for these missed opportunities; as the country now welcomes an even greater talent pool than ever before. For one thing – after nearly two years of border closures – vaccinated skilled migrants and foreign students are eager to step foot in Australia, many fulfilling that “pent-up desire” to finally work abroad.
Secondly, the digital transformation of the workforce (making telecommuting a staple among most Australian companies) grants employers further, online channels for hiring top global talent.
According to recent findings by AlphaBeta, the country is still forecasted to need 6.5 million newly-skilled and reskilled digital workers by 2025 – a number that’s 79% more than the current workforce. Fortunately, this incoming wave of tech workers can significantly help ease this crippling skills gap, while helping employers effectively manage growing workloads and new talent demands.
COMPETITION IS HIGHER
Of course, with the influx of greater talent comes the fiery rise of competition. Not only should employers now make the effort of leveraging incoming global skills – but employees should also ensure their skills remain relevant, competitive, and up-to-date with industry needs.
The ICT field is constantly evolving, frequently breeding new roles, sectors, and the need for general, digital upskilling. Currently, Australia faces a high demand for DevOps engineers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts, ICT project managers, and software developers (according to a recent Hays report) – encouraging workers (both new and existing) to build the relevant skills required to fill these roles. As the country welcomes further talent from overseas, our local workforce must also consider these emerging demands and upskill themselves as required.
Certificate programs and online courses are popular ways to achieve this – ensuring not only a boost in one’s knowledge and skills, but a nationally-recognised verification of them, as well. Such pathways have proven to strengthen one’s chances of a promotion, a pay rise, or general IT opportunities in the job market.
LEVERAGE REMOTE AND “HYBRID” WORK
Amidst the hiring of new, overseas workers – it’s also important to maintain opportunities for remote or “hybrid” work.
According to Hays’ Salary Guide Report for the 2021-2022 financial year, 58% of Australian employers now consider hybrid working as the “new form of office space”. Such flexible arrangements have proven to bring about greater productivity and work-life balance among workers, as well as greater capital savings among business owners.
Most Australian employees additionally have a positive outlook on working from home, with greater focus, satisfaction, and flexibility among their top cited benefits.
Ensuring these work options can thus help employers retain and attract new talent; both abroad and from the local workforce. Some new hires may even remain as fully digital workers; as mentioned, the many digital workspace tools and platforms now available make hiring overseas skills all the more feasible and accessible online.
It’s important to note, however, that the approach is not without its issues. Louise Francis, IDC ANZ’s manager and research director, has called these digital solutions a “double-edged sword” – as local talent are now also being approached by overseas firms, further growing our already deepening skills shortage.
Employers must thus consider further workplace incentives to retain their workers, such as providing greater training opportunities, pay rises, mentorship programs, and a focus on improving work-life balance.
HOWEVER, FURTHER LOCAL ACTION IS STILL NECESSARY
The expected influx of overseas talent may help ease our skills shortage, but this alone is insufficient in successfully meeting industry demands. Our businesses must still make further efforts to optimise the local workforce – ensuring their skills are “future-proofed” for an increasingly digital economy.
UPSKILLING EXISTING WORKERS IS CRITICAL
Employers are encouraged to reskill their current workers, in IT or otherwise, in the general digital tools and platforms needed for the future. Recent findings predict that three in five Australian jobs are will require advanced digital skills by 2030; with 87% of current jobs requiring a minimum of basic digital literacy. This includes a fundamental knowledge of online security, collaborative platforms, online research, and netiquette.
It’s thus important for companies to provide employees with upskilling opportunities – such as online training programs, certificate courses, and micro-credentials. This not only helps in meeting ICT skills shortages, but also allows businesses to retain their workers, helping them in developing and evolving their current skillsets.
THE NEED TO EXPAND TRAINING PROGRAMS
However, our current ICT training still poses areas for improvement.
Universities, for example, will need to rethink the content they currently deliver students. With our landscape evolving at exponentially faster rates, it’s likely that courses developed only a few years ago are no longer relevant to today’s industry needs. The Australian Computer Society (ACS) suggests that these institutions may fare best in working closely with tech vendors, ensuring their programs are carefully shaped to suit the updated, digital demands of modern businesses.
Program enrolments in ICT have also reportedly slowed since 2016, dropping from 97,118 program enrolment to 60,624, according to National Industry Insights. Fortunately, the government has now made efforts to pilot new training methods, including the design of new digital qualifications and its implementation in existing workplaces. Investments in these areas will undoubtedly see boosts in in-demand tech skills, helping mold Australia’s business landscape for an ever-digitised future.
LOOKING TO SET FOOT IN AUSTRALIA’S ICT INDUSTRY?
Whether it’s upskilling for the digital age or competing against a growing pool of IT talent, online courses are a highly flexible, cost-effective, and valuable form of training.
The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT) currently offers a wide range of ICT courses – from boot camp programs in emerging areas of cloud computing, cyber security, and data science; to fully-fledged diplomas in web development and networking. All courses are delivered online, fit to your specific study needs and schedule, and designed to keep your digital skillsets in line with current economic demands.
Kickstart (or boost) your career in the booming industry today – and enquire with us on a course.
AIICT offers a wide range of courses:
ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security)
ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Back End Web Development)
ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Advanced Networking)
ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology (Networking)
ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology (Web Development)
ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology (Systems Administration Support)
ICT30120 Certificate III in Information Technology
Certified Project Management Professional
Certified Full Stack Developer
Certified Artificial Intelligence Professional
Certified Cyber Security Professional
Certified Data Science Professional
Cloud Computing Certified Professional
Growth Marketing Professional