Australia’s Tech Sector Looks Overseas for Talent

Like many other industries in Australia, the technology industry is also experiencing skills shortages. While the halt in skilled migration has played a part in this, there are other factors that have contributed to the shortage.

Australia’s peak body for innovative technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) conducted a survey revealing that Australia’s tech industry is increasingly seeking talent from overseas especially when it comes to Cyber Security experts. The results of the survey also indicated that there was a 20% drop in the intention to recruit locally in the tech sector.

Recruitment firm, Robert Half also conducted research that suggested that 82% of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) plan to hire permanent IT staff from overseas.

Why is there a shift to hire from overseas in the tech sector?

The known talent shortage in the tech sector is a driving factor when it comes to businesses hiring from overseas. Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and Chief Information Officers are reliant on IT security and cyber security skills from overseas talent as trained experts in these fields are not available locally.

The AIIA has called for reform when it comes to the Australian Curriculum and prioritising the digital economy and the industry 5.0 capabilities for primary and secondary students. The current need for local businesses to hire from overseas highlights the shortfalls in local technology education.

Of the AIIA survey respondents only 5% believed that Australia’s education system produced job-ready graduates. 49% of respondents reported that further training was needed by graduates to be effective employees highlighting concerns over Australia’s current ICT training pathways.

However, while skilled migration will help ease skills shortages, organisations may also start to see local talent leave Australia. Open international borders and opportunities overseas will see local talent leave our shores impacting the tech talent shortage further.

How can the skills shortage in the tech industry be improved?

Skilled migration is great for Australia in terms of addressing skills shortages and helping to boost the economy. The main concern from an industry point of view is the lack of focus on training in Australia’s ICT sector.

The view of AIIA CEO Ron Gauci is that Australia’s lack of tech talent is holding back the technology sector from greater growth. As a society, we rely on technology every day and it impacts every industry. If the technology sector doesn’t have the opportunity to grow due to lack of talent, then it could result in innovation focussed businesses and products being held back or possibly sold overseas.

In addition to recruiting tech talent from overseas, the Government needs to look at also prioritising IT education reform resulting in more local talent being available in this sector. The combination of local and overseas talent will assist Australia in reaching the goal of being a leading digital economy by 2030.

IT education reform will help develop local tech talent for the IT industry but it will take time to implement so businesses will be reliant on hiring from overseas for the foreseeable future.

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