Where do we need to focus our attention in skills?

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Improved labour market information

In times of change, individuals and businesses need to make important decisions about training, study, and planning their workforce. To assist in these decisions, they need credible information about the industries that will grow in the future, the skills needed, and the pathways to future jobs.

The Australian Government is committed to improving dynamic user-friendly information on jobs, skills and education in the Australian labour market.

Building business capability and adoption of technology

To remain competitive in the global marketplace, businesses increasingly need to:

  • identify the skills and capabilities they need to further harness the benefits of digital technology
  • upgrade to modern cloud-based business solutions
  • use the web and social media to extend their markets
  • embrace emerging technologies as they evolve.

Despite efforts from all levels of government, evidence suggests that digital capability and the adoption of digital technologies by small and medium businesses is still low.

Barriers to digital adoption in business include:

  • low digital skills
  • lack of awareness of benefits
  • lack of time to research and trial new technology
  • concerns about cost
  • unreliable internet access.

Further information challenges faced by small business can be found in the report of the Small Business Digital Taskforce.

Supporting workers impacted by automation

The impact of technological change on current and future jobs is likely to be uneven. Different industries and regions will be impacted in different ways. Many Australians fear ongoing technological change means that they will be left unemployed or underemployed without the skills required to secure one of the new well-paid jobs on offer.

Governments and industry need to provide support for workers needing to up-skill, re-skill or transition into new areas of employment, whether this be early in their career or when the person is closer to retirement.

Ensuring skills remain relevant and up-to-date

Individuals need to shift their thinking from having a ‘career for life’, to maintaining the skills needed to adapt to changing opportunities.

To maintain a skilled workforce that can keep up with rapid technology change and seize job opportunities, Australia needs to establish a culture of lifelong learning that provides us with access to flexible learning options.

Addressing shortages in key digital skills

Rapid change means Australia faces current shortages in key digital skills including:

  • data management and analysis
  • cyber security
  • cloud computing
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • robotics
  • digital design
  • software design
  • advanced mathematics and statistics.

Department of Education and Training statistics show that approximately 5,500 Australians graduated with an ICT degrees in 2016. The demand for digital skills is increasing as businesses across all industries embrace digital systems and services. The occupations that require digital skills are not just traditional ICT roles. For example, people in marketing and sales now also need data analysis skills and digital design skills.

Businesses, employees and entrepreneurs are keenly aware that not having the right digital capability in their workforce will hinder business innovation and growth, putting Australian businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy.

Balancing digital with other essential skills

While there’s a focus on encouraging individuals to study in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related disciplines, there needs to be the right balance between specialist technical skills and other transferrable skills including creative, problem solving, communication skills and human or user centred design and social science skills. This balance is important to consider when developing education and training curriculums, but also for employers when considering the skill sets they need for particular jobs.

Exporting digital capability

Australia is a major exporter of education, and education in digital skills is an area of strong potential growth.

Supporting economic growth and development in our region is in Australia’s national interest. By building capability of our regional neighbours to engage securely in the global digital economy, we support Australia’s own capability to do the same. Australia is active in raising the bar of cyber awareness and skills in the Indo-Pacific. As our neighbours become more cyber resilient, more secure digital trade opportunities will arise, contributing to economic growth in Australia.