A recent survey conducted by the Slade Group Digital Practice and NET:101 has emphasised the ongoing digital skills shortage in Australia. The Australian Digital Skills and Salary Survey reveals that 25% of Australian businesses are struggling to match digital business needs with adequately skilled employees.
The Slade Group survey, representing 150 Australian businesses, found the overwhelming majority are being negatively affected by the shortage. Digital practice manager Elizabeth Ebeli said: “With the growing importance of digital in today’s business landscape, a lag in digital expertise in Australia is a major concern … these organisations leave themselves wide-open to being left behind in the digital century.”
The Slade Group findings are not an isolated report. The Australian recently focussed on similar surveys aimed at technology leaders and found that close to 60% outsourced technology services to meet digital requirements. The digital skills shortage is not unique to Australia, and major players around the globe are eager to snap up the services of the most talented digital professionals.
The digital employment landscape is a rapidly evolving field where industry needs shift before education providers can realign their curriculums. Students are second-guessing the future of technology before commencing studies that may or may not bear fruit. The Harvey Nash Australia Digital Event Pulse Survey 2015, as reported in The Australian, revealed that digital skills positions related to strategy and product management are the hardest to fill at present.
Professor Greg Hearn, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at the Queensland University of Technology, recently completed a survey of 507 digital industry students and graduates, and found there is a gap between qualifications received and digital industry needs. The survey was in response to Australia’s $2 billion digital content industry trade deficit. Australia’s digital industry is worth approximately $19 billion, and encompasses the gamut of digital technology use including software, computer games, websites, animation and digital videos.
On a positive note, according to Elizabeth Ebeli, many Australian businesses are incorporating up-skilling programs to bridge the digital skills gap.
“Some are doing it really well. There are some interesting anecdotes from smart movers like Optus head of digital, Chris Smith, who started an employee exchange program with US counterparts. Another organisation said they provide staff training internally by coaching all staff – as well as mentoring for senior executives by US-based experts,” Ebeli said.
Investment in digital learning remains a priority for Australian education institutions, including schools, TAFE and universities. The information super-highway is roaring along, and it’s time for a turbo-charged approach.