Vocational education and training (VET) could provide a gateway for organisations to build a talented pipeline of employees with ICT qualifications – skills that are becoming increasingly sought after in Australia.
New research from Deloitte Access Economics and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) predicted the sector’s headcount would grow 2 per cent year on year until 2020, compared with 1.4 per cent for the rest of the workforce.
The Australia’s Digital Pulse 2016 report found that digital technologies contributed $79 billion to the country’s economy in 2014, but this figure is expected to climb to $139 billion within the next four years.
Deloitte and the ACS said the nation must begin equipping workers with the ICT skills they need to take advantage of digital growth. The number of employees in the sector is forecast to increase more than 15 per cent by 2020, jumping from 600,000 in 2014 to 695,000.
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VET is ‘the right fit’ for ICT
The Deloitte and ACS research was released just weeks after Hays Australia highlighted notable shortages of highly qualified ICT workers in the country. According to the recruitment firm, demand outweighs supply in many segments of the industry. This trend was also highlighted in Australia’s Digital Pulse 2016.
“In the long term, ensuring that Australia’s workforce has a sustainable supply of ICT workers and skills requires increasing the number of Australian students studying ICT-related subjects and courses at the primary, secondary, university and vocational levels of education,” the report stated.
Deloitte and the ACS also noted the importance of VET as an alternative pathway to higher education. Specifically, the report drew attention to the fact that businesses are beginning to place more value on training received outside of tertiary education.
“It is important that the Australian workforce is not wholly reliant on the pipeline of ICT students and graduates as the sole domestic source of ICT workers and skills to support the growing digital economy,” the report explained.
One reason for this is that schools, colleges and universities are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of evolution seen in the ICT sector. As such, on-the-job experience and the soft skills picked up in the workplace are more in demand.