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Why education is the primary solution to Australia’s IT skills shortage

31 May 2019

Australia is at risk of falling behind in the global technology race unless companies can secure top IT talent, with reports forecasting Australia will need an extra 100,000 technology workers by 2023 to become a global ICT leader. In light of this, a survey of 160 Australian IT employers commissioned by specialist recruiter Robert Half reveals what Australian CIOs identify to be the key solution to help alleviate the IT skills shortage.

Education is the solution

According to the survey, almost a third (29%) of Australian CIOs think increased collaboration with education providers and universities is the primary solution to alleviate the skills shortage in the technology field. This finding coincides with a report by Accenture which highlights that education and new learning techniques will be integral to closing the skills gap as technology reshapes the nature of work.

The second method to alleviate the skills shortage – as identified by 23% of Australian CIOs – is promoting IT as an attractive career among millennials and Gen Z, followed by 16% who refer to increased collaboration initiatives from the business community and 12% who identify increased in-house training initiatives.   

The skills shortage in five years

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, skills shortages are not only likely to continue in coming years, but the skills gap is at risk of widening unless effective measures are put in place to upskill the workforce. Indeed, almost nine in 10 (88%) CIOs, respectively, say it is more challenging to find qualified IT professionals compared to five years ago and will become more challenging over the next five years.

The top five functional areas within IT where it is most difficult to find skilled job candidates include IT security (53%), IT management (40%), technical support and operations (20%), software/application development (19%) and data/database management (17%).

Robert Half director Andrew Morris says, “Australia’s current IT skills shortage is a risk to business success and innovation. With technology evolving at a rapid pace, education systems and providers play a key role, not just to guarantee a continuous flow of skilled IT professionals into the employment market, but also to help upskill existing staff.

“For Australia to become a global technology leader, it’s crucial education providers ensure their STEM qualifications, courses and degrees evolve at a similar speed technology does.”