Digital skills crisis in Australia


ACS is calling for a holistic overhaul of the nation’s skills, training, and immigration programs in its annual Digital Pulse report to be released on Wednesday.

The call comes as the report forecasts a crisis looming for the Australian economy with the rapid pace of change seeing 90% of Australian workers’ jobs changing in the next decade, driven by technologies like AI and robotics across most sectors of the workforce.

Chris Vein, ACS Chief Executive, said “By 2030, we will need 1.3 million additional skills to effectively utilise the technologies reshaping the Australian workforce. Forecasts from Digital Pulse suggests Australia is not on track to achieve the growth in skills we need.

“This year’s Digital Pulse is not merely a call to action; it’s a robust, practical roadmap to build the nationwide tech skills we need. We have developed the most comprehensive projections around tech skills demand through to 2030 to date based on currently available information.

“This year’s report calls for a coalition across industry, education and government to start shaping how our society will respond to the skills challenge this exciting era presents.”

This year’s Digital Pulse, to be launched on Wednesday, is the ninth since the annual survey of Australia’s technology sector was first released in 2015. Key Statistics from the report include:

  • A lack of the right digital skills is currently costing Australian businesses $3.1 billion each year which could top $16bn by 2030.
  • The pace of technology investment in Australia is projected to skyrocket from $171B in 2023 to $259B by 2030, this rate of growth is three times faster than overall business investment
  • By the end of the decade, half of Australian businesses will be using AI, data analytics and robotics but technologies like Generative AI mean businesses will need to do more to keep up with their employees shifting skills and demands
  • 75% of working hours for Australian workers will be affected by key technologies, heralding a significant skill shift across industries.

In the report, ACS proposes a National Digital Skills Strategy including a skills-first education and training initiative, a national skills platform, more support for career transitions towards a tech orientated career, to boost the diversity in tech skills, programs to boost Women in Tech, and assist skilled migrants utilise their capabilities.

“The stakes are high for Australia,” Mr Vein concluded. “If the nation can get this right, we could be leading the world and guaranteeing our prosperity into the future. If we don’t seize the opportunity, we could well be left behind by the middle of the century.”