Digi Roundtable- Tackling The Digital Skills Shortage

Following the National Jobs Summit in September, (in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know about the summit, check out our blog post about the event), on Thursday 8th September, the Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) ran a Digi Roundtable in Canberra connecting key representatives from State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments and leading Industry figures to help shape the digital upskilling challenge.

The Australian Government and tech sector have recently joined forces to tackle the digital skills challenge facing the Australian workforce by seeking to achieve 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030. While Australia is on track to create these jobs, filling them will be a challenge.

The Tech Council of Australia have forecast that we will need to employ an additional 653,000 tech workers by the end of the decade (representing an increase of 186,000 over business-as-usual approaches). Tech jobs are amongst the most well-paid, stable, and flexible jobs in the Australian economy. These jobs are accessible to people from all walks of life, have a variety of skills, and there is little discrimination in pay based on education or socioeconomic status once people break into the sector. It’s a sector, and a skill set, that stands to benefit all Australians.

I was invited to be part of the DSO’s Digi Roundtable discussion, representing MYOB and two programs we currently offer that seek to boost diversity in tech: DevelopHer (Graduate Program | MYOB Australia) and our recent pilot with Master Builders Australia (MBA). Both DevelopHer and our MBA partnership seek to support women’s advancement in tech with DevelopHer creating mid-career pathways for women seeking a move into tech, and our MBA skills program offering women in the construction sector access to digital business learning, enabling them to adopt digital tools to grow their businesses.

The day started with opening speeches by Patrick Kidd, CEO DSO, Tom McMahon, Deputy CEO Tech Council of Australia and Renae Houston, First Assistant Secretary Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. This set the scene for the challenge in front of us and the positive nature in which Governments and industry have come together to jointly align on the opportunity to scale digital skills development and how we can measure progress.

The session then progressed into roundtable discussions and presentations for each of the four key themes:

  1. increasing awareness of job opportunities in Tech,
  2. improving education, training products and pathways,
  3. improving diversity of the tech workforce, and
  4. strengthening industry-level workforce supply and demand planning.

Some of the key issues discussed throughout the day included:
  • Awareness and age
    • it’s not just a student problem, it’s all supply entry points (mid-career, difference groups and school students) and unless you have a parent/friend working in Tech, how do you know what’s out there?
  • Learning modality and an overarching framework
    • The Australian Qualification Framework is seen by some as restricting flexibility needed to access training throughout our working lives (built for linear progressions and careers) and there’s currently no universally agreed definition of what ‘digital literacy’ means,
  • Diversity
    • attracting more women and underrepresented groups in Tech and that Tech is the perfect industry for flexibility and remote work,
  • Availability of teachers
    • to both develop the training content/learning design and deliver the training,
  • Funding
    • creating affordable, flexible, fee help micro-course options with a job at the end of the training, and;
  • The role of industry
    • the big players e.g. Microsoft, Atlassian will always be able to attract talent, but what roles could they play in taking on a disproportionate number of trainees (costing time and money) for the benefit of the industry at large?

It was great to have the opportunity to bring the voice of Talent Acquisition and Industry into a conversation about driving more tech jobs. Government, training providers, employers all have a role to play in tackling the skills challenge to better bring supply and demand together. Output from the session will be collated into a report, with the aim of establishing teams prepared to align on what to do next, with a real focus on action. Stay tuned!

About Digital Skills Organisation (DSO)

The DSO was established in 2020 by the Commonwealth Government to work with industry and have a national focus.

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