Australian Computer Society (ACS) releases 2019 Australian Digital Pulse Report


Plus comments from Pluralsight, Rackspace, Brennan IT, F5 Networks and McAfee

Download Here

Formulated on the basis of three pillars, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) 2019 Australian Digital Pulse report focuses on Capacity, Capability and Catalyst.

An annual snapshot on the state of Australia’s digital economy, each pillar outlines the requirements for digital technologies to continue to power Australia’s economic growth, illustrated by a 29% increase in ICT services exports to $3.8 billion in 2017-18.

Each pillar is defined. Capacity looks at ensuring a sufficient source of technology professionals in Australia to underpin a successful digital economy, Capability delivers on making the skills available in the profession, and Catalyst seeks out the innovation by facilitating tech R&D and supporting Australian technology commercialisation.

The Report highlights an ongoing shortage of talent in the tech sector, with an additional 100,000 skilled workers in demand by 2024. While the issue is widely recognised and boosting skills remains a top policy priority for driving the growth of our digital economy, a major question remains; why is the nation still falling short on talent supply?

Gary Denman, Vice President, ANZ at McAfee, commented, “Specifically there exists a major cybersecurity talent shortage. Australia will need 18,000 additional cybersecurity professionals by 2026, according to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).”

“We’re at a critical point that requires a multi-layered approach to address the many factors fuelling the skills gap. Automation can streamline various security processes and operations, such as real-time threat mapping.

“Additionally, on the job training and education in the cybersecurity sector will be essential to improve the retention rates and skills of current talent. A recent McAfee report revealed cybersecurity professionals showing the highest job satisfaction are those who work at organisations that leverage gamification as a training tool, and 77 per cent of senior managers agreeing their organisation’s cybersecurity would be much safer if they implemented more gamification.

“Business leaders across the country are prioritising digital transformation initiatives, and the savviest will be working on initiatives that will last and evolve over several years,” said Jason Baden, Regional Vice President, F5 Networks A/NZ. “However, without the right skills and technical knowledge in place, these digital transformation plans won’t come to fruition, leading to wasted investment despite good intentions.”

“It’s unrealistic to expect app developers to be security developers as well, and the reality is that tomorrow’s businesses need both in bulk. While app developers focus on functionality, business leaders need to be regularly assessing and re-assessing the security threats and requirements across the entire business. In the background, they also need to be engaging with enterprise-level security solutions – the best ones will address their security threats end-to-end, while also helping them address the cybersecurity skills gap by extending the value of existing staff through technology that is regularly updated, professionally managed, and operating on a 24/7 basis.”

According to Emma Pudney, Director, Architecture, Onboarding and Professional Services, Rackspace ANZ, “We have the power to help the Australian economy and innovation industries become more competitive and sustainable on a global scale, but in order to do that we need government investment, and ongoing cross-collaboration between the private sector and higher education. This will produce long term benefits not only in terms of national research and development, but also in closing our current technology skills gaps.

The issue is the technology talent pipeline and any step that the government can take in promoting a stronger collaborative link between universities, research organisations and the private sector is welcome, whether that is through tax incentive programs, direct funding, or policy reform. Further, the benefits of training women in particular, who have a real desire to learn critical tech skills are tenfold and a personal passion point of mine at Rackspace. The ACS findings outline the tangible benefit of reskilling workers from other professional industries to meet employer demand, at least in monetary terms, as more than $11,000 per employee per year by 2024. The time for Australian businesses to act is now.”

Stephen Sims, CEO, Brennan IT added, “With an additional 100,000 tech workers still needed by 2024, Australia’s already existing gap in ICT skills is widening even further. This poses a real threat to local organisations as they look to leverage digital technologies to bolster innovation and productivity.

Organisations do, however, have options to address this issue. Upskilling staff and accessing fresh STEM talent is a longer-term solution, however its crucial to make the best decision for your organisation to weather the storm of industry change now, because time isn’t necessarily on our side – organisations need answers today or risk slipping behind both Australian and global competitors.

Partnering with experienced professionals and IT service providers has its benefits. They’ve become talent pools and enable Australian organisations to access the latest technologies and utilise their varying experiences in the tech space. Leaving the ‘skills’ issue to specialist professionals could be the best solution to freeing-up valuable time and resources internally, and driving results now.”

Fiona Sweeney, Director, Asia Pacific, Pluralsight highlighted, “Yet again, the research shows that Australian businesses aren’t keeping up with the increasingly dire tech skills shortage and this is having an impact on our ability to compete on the global stage. According to the report, the highest policy priority to drive the growth of Australia’s digital economy is skills development—and this is exactly the kind of initiative Australia’s tech sector so desperately needs. There’s major opportunity for existing talent to be upskilled in more than one area of technology to provide a high calibre of multi-skilled technology professionals in Australia.

The crux of the problem is organisations neglecting to nurture, train and empower their employees to become high performing, capable professionals in all areas of technology—including cybersecurity, DevOps, data management, AI, blockchain, or cloud. Organisations that shift focus to upskilling or reskilling employees, and away from trying to fight the unwinnable war on talent by bringing in new team members with the latest skills, will future-proof themselves against the inevitable and continual impacts of technology on the corporate workforce.

Business and tech leaders need to look within and start investing wisely before it’s too late. That starts by investing in ongoing training solutions to keep the skills of their team fresh. But if we’re really going to win this fierce talent battle, we need to start measuring the impact of training, set milestones for skills development and progression, and reward staff when upskilling and training is completed with tangible results.”

Fiona Sweeney, Director, Asia Pacific, Pluralsight concluded, “This is not the first time we are hearing concerns about continued barriers to Australia’s economic growth via skill shortages.

In light of the recent news about the Federal Government’s decision to overhaul the Australia’s skilled migration occupation lists, the question comes up again – do we not have enough talent, or do we not have the right talent? It’s both. In addition to apprenticeships and legislation, organisations need to focus their attention on providing teams with opportunities to up-skill and develop new skills from within. This will allow for the Australian economy to make a natural progression to being competent and skilled enough to face the many challenges of the future like filling jobs for program developers, software engineers business analysts, etc.

A tailored skills development plan is the best way forward to upskill staff in the most effective way. To take this one step further, upskilling employees should not be viewed as a corporate mandate or compliance requirement. Closing the skills gap is a larger, multi-faceted issue and the responsibility lies with all Australian organisations.”

By Chris Cubbage, Executive Editor

Comments (edited) contributed by Hotwire