This page belongs to: National Quantum Strategy

Theme 3: A skilled and growing quantum workforce

The Australian Government will:

  • promote Australia as the world’s top destination for people studying, undertaking research in and working in quantum industries
  • cement Australia’s status as a high-value location for companies establishing their own quantum-related capabilities.

Immediate actions

Action 3.1 

Deliver the National Quantum Collaboration Initiative and quantum technology talent PhD scholarships, to lay the foundations for a nation-wide model for academic collaboration.

Action 3.2 

Release a quantum workforce report, including modelling to identify workforce and educational needs for our quantum sector and adjacent industries. The report will include skills taxonomies for quantum professionals and other adjacent occupations.

Action 3.3

Integrate quantum science into programs growing STEM awareness in schools, universities and VET, in collaboration with federal, state and territory education bodies. This will strengthen pathways and promote uptake into quantum and adjacent careers and will include initiatives to lift the participation of women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other underrepresented groups.

Action 3.4

Explore measures to attract global quantum talent and position Australia as a top destination to build a thriving quantum career. This includes actively promoting Australia as a destination for professionals in quantum and adjacent industries, including through targeted incentives, skilled migration and talent attraction programs.

What we’ve heard

A strong and vibrant Australian quantum sector requires a skilled, diverse and growing workforce. The types of skills required will reach beyond physics into many different fields, including:

  • machining
  • electrical engineering
  • software development and quantum algorithm research
  • teaching
  • science communication
  • management
  • cross-sectoral applications.

Meeting our current and future quantum skills needs requires a pipeline of talent from schools, through universities and vocational training and into industry. We need to develop and promote quantum career paths that make current workers and school students aware of the diverse and engaging opportunities in the industry.

We can capitalise on Australia’s established strengths to grow a local quantum ecosystem. Australia’s research excellence in universities and industry has established us as an international quantum leader. These researchers will be the cornerstone of our future quantum industry.

We have a long history of collaborating on research into social and economic priorities through Centres of Excellence. Our research strengths are in part due to decades of government funding in fundamental and applied quantum science.

Our quantum sector can significantly contribute to Australia’s future prosperity. The sector is forecast to generate over 16,000 jobs by 2040, and this number will grow with additional investment.

The Australian Government has a target of 1.2 million technology jobs by 2030, which will support the quantum industry’s requirements. But we need more than quantum experts – we need quantum‑literate businesses and workers across sectors, including manufacturing and engineering. We also need businesses that can identify and use new quantum applications.

Building a quantum talent pipeline is a long-term effort. We first need to assess our current, emerging and future quantum skills needs and consider how we can meet our short-, medium- and long-term skills gaps. In the short- to medium-term, we need to increase quantum literacy in schools and highlight quantum career opportunities to secondary students and other workers.

We also need to lift diversity and inclusion in the industry. This will:

  • bring new ideas and insights
  • reduce bias in the system
  • ensure we’re reflecting the views of Australia’s diverse society
  • be essential to reaching the government’s technology jobs target.

In the long term, we must inspire more children to choose STEM and quantum education and careers. Bringing quantum into the classroom and engaging children at an early age will encourage a new generation of students to pursue quantum and related careers.

Australian research institutes and quantum companies must compete with other countries for the best and brightest minds. Creating a thriving and trusted domestic ecosystem is essential for retaining Australia’s talent. We need to promote Australia as a destination for international talent and promote the key capabilities that will let local industries succeed.

Action impacts

These immediate actions address the challenges and opportunities identified in this strategy, by:

  • promoting Australia as the world’s top destination for talent. This will address skills shortages that are a barrier to growth
  • building a skilled, diverse and growing talent pipeline to support well-paying jobs, job growth and prosperity in quantum and related industries
  • strengthening Australian’s sovereign capability
  • cementing Australia’s status as a desirable location for quantum companies by capitalising on our local talent and research excellence.

Jobs and Skills Summit

At the 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit, the Australian Government committed to implementing a Digital and Tech Skills Compact. The compact will see the government work with industry, training and education providers, unions and others on practical measures meet Australia’s digital and tech skills shortage.

A focus of the compact is developing an ‘earn while you learn’ scheme or ‘digital apprenticeship’. This will bring workforce entrants into tech-related roles and improve the diversity of the tech workforce.

Case study

Inspiring students

As part of the STEM 2022 on demand series, Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA) and the NSW Department of Education created a video showing teachers how to light a path to a quantum career for their students. The video explains that the era of quantum computing is fast approaching and covers some of the potential applications for emerging quantum technology.

By clearly explaining our quantum future and the sector’s growing need for diverse skills, the video can help teachers inspire a new generation of students. The video is part of a wider campaign and activities SQA runs in partnership with several organisations including a summer school, open days and a careers fair.  

Case study

Building a quantum career

Ritika Bazzad at work in the lab
Ritika Bazzad, Sydney Quantum Academy PhD scholarship recipient at UTS. Credit: Sydney Quantum Academy

The past 7 years have seen a flurry of challenges for 22 year-old Ritika Bazzad. Despite this, she’s overcome obstacles – including a global pandemic – and is now deep into a PhD on quantum materials.

Her first obstacle was integrating into a new country halfway through a school year. When she arrived in Australia from her native India in 2014 and, due to the different start dates for academic years, she had to repeat Year 10.

After graduating high school, her father suggested Ritika consider science, leading to an applied physics degree at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Then she heard about Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA), a partnership between 4 universities – Macquarie University, University of Sydney, UNSW and UTS – backed by the NSW Government. SQA provides scholarships, career development and a thriving local community of young researchers.

She qualified for a PhD Experience Scholarship, with access to career development and entry to the SQA PhD Experience program. This program allows students to pick up technical expertise, leadership and other transferable skills by taking part in the same seminars, workshops and coursework as those on scholarships with a stipend. And they get to experience the cutting edge of quantum science and technology from both a theory as well as a practical perspective.

Ritika Bazzad at work in the lab
Credit: Sydney Quantum Academy

Ritika’s research – in the Quantum Materials and Photonics Team at UTS – is focused on nanomaterials, artificial structures just billionths of a metre in size. At that scale, matter displays quantum effects that can be manipulated.

She is experimenting with hexagonal boron nitride (or hBN) crystals so they can better emit single photons (or particles of light). If it can be perfected, it could lead to semiconductor chips just one atom thick, opening the door to advanced 2D quantum state engineering.