Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Australia's Digital Pulse

Greetings from the National Press Club in Canberra, where Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications, is speaking at the launch of "Australia's Digital Pulse". This eighty page report was prepared for the Australian Computer Society (ACS) by Deloitte.

Brenda Aynsley, ACS President, said we need a deeper pool of ICT professionals and a focus on STEM skills in classrooms.

The report was prepared by Dr Ric Simes and John O’Mahony at Deloitte Access Economics. As well as the full report the key findings are available.

One point made by the authors is that while ICT is important to the economy and there are plenty of ICT jobs, the enrollments in ICT at Australian universities is declining. Australia is now importing many more ICT professionals than it is graduating at its own universities. The mining sector diverted students from ICT to other industries. Also the perception is that ICT degrees are for geeks, not cool digital business people. Also the current boom in the ICT industry is not as visible as the mining boom.

The authors also warned of a digital divide at schools, with a few who are literate and many who are not. Computer studies at Australian schools are also declining.  A national curriculum of digital technologies is being introduced but I notice that NSW appears not to be prompt to implement it (a topic for a future ACS e-Learning Special Interest Group in Canberra).

The Minister said he was excited by the digital revolution, including the additional hotel rooms being provided in Sydney without any new buildings, due to Internet booking. The minister urged Australia to embrace the volatility due to the Internet. Perhaps Australian government agents will use digital currency to buy off people smugglers in the Arafura Sea ;-)

More seriously, the Minister asked why female participation in the ICT industry is decreasing.He suggested joking that some culture change to the stereotypical pizza eating caffeine drinking male computer nerd.

I did a quick search of the report and found that "Massive Open Online Course" (MOOC) gets a mention, but no other forms of open access to education. The report appears to cover many of the same issues in the "#SMARTer2030: ICT Solutions for 21 st Century Challenges" by Accenture for GeSI (2015).
"Digital technologies is one of the fastest growing parts of Australia’s economy with its economic contribution growing from $50 billion in 2011 to $79 billion in 2013-14.
Deloitte Access Economics and the Australian Computer Society Australia’s have partnered to produce Australia's Digital Pulse which examines how digital disruption is dramatically changing industries and occupations across the economy.
The report found there has been 5% growth in the number of ICT professionals, with an increase to 600,000 ICT workers in 2014, and demand for a further 100,000 workers over the next six years. Despite the demand, the number of graduates with ICT qualifications has declined significantly since the early 2000s.
The report shows that Australia needs a workforce that is equipped with the ICT skills necessary to fuel its digitally-driven economic growth. This creates an enormous opportunity for students considering a career in ICT.
Key findings
  • Employment in the ICT sector is expected to grow by 2.5% per year over the next six years to 2020. Compared to employment for the economy as a whole, which is forecast to grow by 1.6%
  • The gender pay gap in ICT stands at 20%, significantly lower than the workforce average of 34%
  • 47% of all workers who studied ICT are now in other professions, such as advertising, marketing or accounting
  • 43% of workers in ICT occupations studied courses other than ICT or engineering, such as commerce and management degrees
  • 52% of ICT workers are in industries outside ICT itself including professional services, public administration and financial services
  • The highest growth rate in demand for ICT qualifications is forecast for postgraduates, with demand forecast to grow at 4.2% annually over the six years to 2020."

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