With the influx of new waves of technological innovations that have disrupted many traditional sectors, Australia’s digital economy is expected to grow significantly over the coming years, according to ARN.
The Australian digital economy is now valued at $79 billion as estimated by Deloitte Access Economics, which conducted its second Connected Continent report. This contributed 5.1 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product.
The report said that if the digital economy could be considered as an industry, it would be larger than Australia’s agriculture, transport, or retail industries and estimated that it will continue to grow rapidly, reaching $139 billion or 7.3 percent of GDP by 2020.
The current $79 billion figure is a significant increase on the $50 billion recorded in 2011, and well ahead of a forecast at the time, which said the digital economy would be worth $70 billion by 2016. The growth was caused by a rise in mobile access to the Internet and digital services through smartphones, as well as increased use of cloud and data analytics.
Maile Carnegie, Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand, said Google had been keen about the report to be updated as it gave a clear indication to government about the need to ensure that roadblocks to growth were removed.
“It is hard to estimate exactly the future growth, but whether it is $130 million or $150 million by 2020, is almost not the point. It is absolutely the thoroughbred that, as a country we should be jumping on and riding as hard as we can,” she enthused as quoted from the Financial Review.
Moreover, Ms Carnegie noted an ongoing skills shortage in tech-related areas and the risk of over-regulation as key issues that should be addressed. The report estimated that there are 451,000 information and communication technology specialists in Australia, which is equal to about 4 percent of the total employment.
Retraining Local Talent
To adapt to these changes and sustain these developments, a diverse set of skills is now essential among Australian IT professionals. It is vital to retrain and update the skills of the existing IT workforce, as businesses make it a priority to hold more general skill sets in addition to core technical skills. Addressing this proficiency shift will allow Australia to stay ahead of the curve, and to support an ever-growing technology-based economy.
According to ARN, a diverse set of skills is now essential among Australian IT workers for Australia’s digital future. Skilling up the broader Australian workforce will ensure that there is an adequate supply of IT skills for the booming digital economy.
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has developed four key priorities for the next term of the Coalition government that need to be accelerated to sustain the Australian digital economy:
- Development and maturity of Australia’s digital talent and skills base through investment in STEM education and encouraging diversity in the ICT workforce, such as by providing greater support for women.
- Small business adoption and integration of digital technology to improve productivity and create jobs.
- Delivery of high-performing, competitive digital infrastructure, such as the nbn™, new spectrum and 5G wireless networks.
- Digital transformation of government to take the lead in service delivery and procurement.
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