Australia is facing a massive skills crisis with a projected gap of more than 100,000 ICT workers over the next five years, according to a new report.
The study, Australia's Digital Pulse, produced by Deloitte Access Economics and the the Australian Computer Society, found that although there has been 5 per cent growth in worker demand, the declining number of graduates with ICT qualifications means the industry will experience a gap in available workers.
Deloitte Access Economics director, John O'Mahony, said the contribution from ICT to Australia's economy, and our successfully meeting productivity challenges are at risk if we don't ensure there is an adequate workforce equipped with the necessary skills.
"We urgently need to boost both awareness and opportunity around ICT skills development," O'Mahony said.
Stereotypes are partly to blame for young people wanting to study IT and enter the workforce.
ACS CEO, Andrew Johnson, said we need the future ICT professional with new eyes as digital disruption creates jobs requiring tech skills within a diverse range of sectors and professions.
Employment in the ICT sector is expected to grow by 2.5 per cent per year over the next 6 years to 2020. This compares to an employment growth rate of 1.6 per cent for the economy as a whole.
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Alarmingly, 47 per cent of all workers who studied ICT are now in other professions, such as advertising, marketing or accounting. Further, 43 per cent of workers who studied ICT are now in other professions.
Meanwhile, the report found that digital technologies is one of the fastest growing parts of Australia's economy. Its contribution grew in the past three years to a 5.1 per cent share of our GDP -- from $50 billion in 2011 to $79 billion in 2013-14.
But despite this influence, Australian schools were well behind in the use of digital technologies within an education setting. Currently, only 3 per cent of Year 6 students frequently use ICT in schools for technical tasks, the report said.