WA to lead ICT growth

14/07/2015 - 15:16

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A Deloitte Access Economics study indicates that Western Australia will have the highest growth in information and communications technology workers of any state over the second half of the decade, growing an average of 3.9 per cent per annum to a projected total of 60,605 ICT workers in 2020.

A Deloitte Access Economics study indicates that Western Australia will have the highest growth in information and communications technology workers of any state over the second half of the decade, growing an average of 3.9 per cent per annum to a projected total of 60,605 ICT workers in 2020.

The findings were released today in the Australian Computer Society’s launch of WA-focused results from a recent Deloitte analysis of ICT employment.

The ACS-commissioned Deloitte Access Economics Australia’s Digital Pulse report projects that national ICT employment is expected to grow to over 700,000 workers by 2020, at an average annual growth percentage of 2.5 per cent.

Much of the analysis contained within the report is concerned with a projected shortage of skilled workers to fill these new positions.

The report also finds that the industry continues to have a gender problem with women comprising only 27.8 per cent of ICT workers, compared to 43.3 per cent women in professional industries overall.

There was concern, raised privately by several of those attending the report’s Perth launch, regarding the growing need to rely upon migration and 457 visa-holders to fill the ICT labour shortage.

Deloitte says that nationally in the 2014 financial year, the net arrival of ICT workers was 19,000, and 11,800 temporary skilled migration (457) visas were granted for ICT work in that year.

The report mentions that in the year 2013 only 167 people completed IT undergraduate degrees in WA, while an additional 78 students completed postgraduate study in the field.

IT enrolments have sharply declined since the end of the dot.com boom, with the report finding that only 3,463 IT undergraduate degree completions in Australia for the year of 2013, compared with the peak of 6,580 a decade earlier in the year 2003.

However the Deloitte report shows that only 35 per cent of ICT workers come from IT backgrounds, with the majority coming from other fields, such as engineering and commerce.

ACS WA chair David Cook was keen to stress that the coming ICT skills issue was not just one of quantity.

“Whilst much of today we’ve been talking about is the need for more people for a quantity … there is also a quality issue,” Mr Cook said.

“We’ve got a genuine need not just for undergraduates coming through, but for our existing people in management to take up the call to be able to act in a professional manner…  there is a need to engage in certification, in credentialing, in the need for a skills framework.” 

Deloitte’s study suggests average annual growths in the ‘management and operations’ and ‘technical and professional’ subdivisions of the ICT industry in WA are both expected to be 4.2 per cent.

This corresponds to over 4,200 new WA workers in technical and professional ICT work and 4,000 new ICT workers in management and operations over the next six years.

Data collected by the study show that in the year of 2014 only 3.6 per cent of WA’s total workforce were ICT workers, the second lowest proportion of any state and only slightly higher than Tasmania’s 3.3 percent.

The report states that there was a 5 per cent increase in the number of ICT professionals employed within Australia in the year 2014, to a total of just over 600,000.

It estimates that nationally digital technologies contributed $79 billion to the economy in the 2013-2014 financial year, up from the estimated $50 billion figure of 2011.

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