Australia must train and recruit tens of thousands more tech workers to drive the economy forward and should not be deterred by the “blip” causing many tech giants to reduce their staff, an audience at the National Press Club was told. Kate Pounder, Chief Executive of the Technology Council of Australia, warned at the press club in Canberra on Wednesday that policy changes and funding initiatives need to be implemented to boost the industry as progress is not being made quickly enough. She said that without action, Australia could face a shortage of more than 180,000 workers by 2030.
Pounder stated that the Tech Council, which represents start-ups to unicorns Canva and Atlassian, aims for 1.2 million people to be employed in tech roles in Australia by 2030 and for technology to contribute $250 billion a year to the country’s bottom line. However, she noted that the number of people studying and entering tech jobs has remained low for the past decade. In the year to November 2022, jobs in technology doubled and grew by 9%, even during the widespread redundancies in the tech sector, such as those at Facebook, Google and Twitter.
Pounder said that these job cuts are a temporary issue, like the dot-com bubble of 2000. To ensure Australia can close the gap in tech, she suggested streamlining the migration system for specialized tech workers and encouraging more women, older Australians, people from regional areas, Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities into tech jobs. Furthermore, she proposed that greater investments from government agencies are necessary to support innovation in Australia, particularly during the current economic downturn, and with smaller firms innovating in fields such as quantum, artificial intelligence, cyber and biotech.