IT technical and professional and IT management and operations roles are predicted to be the fastest growing occupational groupings over the next five years, according to research commissioned by the Australian Computer Society (ACS).
The ACS’ latest Digital Pulse report, which was conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, forecasts the number of technology workers in Australia to increase by just below 1.2 million by 2027, or an increase of 330,000 workers or 5.5 percent.
Most of this growth will be in ICT technical and professional roles with 156,000 additional workers during the period, representing a 6.5 percent increase, and in ICT management and operations roles with 125,300 more workers, or a 6.2 percent increase.
Electronic trade workers are forecast to grow by 4.1 percent, ICT trades by 3.9 percent, ICT industry admin and logistics support by 3.1 percent, while ICT sales will remain steady with a 0.3 percent increase.
For specific occupations, the most growth will be in software and applications programmers (70,694 additional workers), management and organisation analysts (38,900) and ICT managers (31,400).
The ACS said the 5.5 percent increase also exceeds the forecast growth rate for the overall Australian workforce, which is expected to increase by 1.6 percent per year over the same period.
“The 5.5 percent annual growth rate is the highest growth rate predicted in any edition of Australia’s Digital Pulse. The historically high forecast growth is partly a reflection of persistently high growth in technology workers,” the report read.
“Increasing job advertisements for technology roles, as a forward-looking indicator, also suggests a likely higher growth rate in coming years. Between 2019 and 2022, job advertisements for technology sector occupations have risen by 66 percent.”
Which roles will see the most growth?
The report broke down the specific roles that fall under each occupational grouping, based on Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) levels.
ICT technical and professional roles include the following occupations:
- Graphic and web designers, and illustrators
- ICT business and systems analysts
- Multimedia specialists and web developers
- Software and applications programmers
- Computer network professionals
- Telecommunications engineering professionals
- Telecommunications technical specialists
- ICT professionals
- Business and systems analysts, and programmers
- ICT network and support professionals
- ICT and telecommunications technicians
ICT management and operations:
- ICT managers
- ICT trainers
- Management and organisation analysts
- Other information and organisation professionals
- Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists
- ICT support and test engineers
Electronic trades and professionals:
- Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians
- Electronic engineering draftspersons and technicians
- Electronics trades workers
- ICT support technicians
- Telecommunications trades workers
- ICT sales professionals
- ICT sales assistants
ICT industry admin and logistics support lists “all other occupations where the employee works in an ICT-related industry subdivision”, specifically those in telecommunications services; internet service providers, web search portals and data processing services; and computer system design and related services.
The ACS report also examines the broader benefits of professionalisation for the workforce, specifically going into how it would help increase trust with customers, improve capabilities and efficiencies and innovation from standards.
It surveyed technology workers on this topic and found that 80 percent of respondents were willing to undertake professional certification in their field, more than the proportion of workers in professional services occupations willing to undertake professional certification. The ACS however warned that the results should be interpreted with some caution, stating that only a very small proportion of the technology workforce are certified professionals and that it may reflect a difference in between reported attitudes and realised actions.
The survey also revealed some 32 percent of the respondent workers reported that their workplace does not place significant value in professional certification or accreditation. “While greater levels of certification in the sector can develop organically through employers and purchasers placing requirements for certification and accreditation, it can be difficult for the demand to display when there are not currently high levels of certification,” the report stated.
Deloitte lead partner for Integrity, Deen Sanders, stated in the report that businesses “could be missing out on significant benefits” by not encouraging greater levels of professional certification among technology employees.
“Employers often think about an organisation's brand and reputation separately to the brand and reputation of their staff, but having higher levels of certified employees in an organisation builds the brand and reputation of the organisation,” Sanders said.
Sanders added that a workforce with higher levels of certification may be able to protect organisations from increased regulatory burden. Professional certifications have been putting greater obligations and codes of conduct on workers to achieve outcomes, and having higher levels of certification may help reduce direct regulation, the report argued.