Australia is rapidly transforming into a highly skilled nation where a large number of people are employed in technology fields like cyber security.
Weeks after the personal data of 9.8 million Optus customers was breached, census figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday showed a huge increase in the number of people studying defense against hackers.
There are now nearly half a million Australians with an information technology qualification – a stunning 36% increase between 2016 and 2021.
And of those, 5,805 are qualified in cybersecurity, up 460%, making it the fastest growing profession in Australia.
“There are more than 260,000 ICT professionals and 74,000 ICT managers in the workforce, an increase of 86,000 since the last census,” Australian statistician David Gruen said in a statement on Wednesday.
But the huge leap in tech jobs and skills isn’t the only major shift underway in Australia’s workforce.
Service-related jobs and skills are also booming as the national economy transforms to meet the demands of an aging population and disability insurance.
There are now more than 1.7 million people working in health care and social assistance across the country, with most job fields experiencing rapid growth.
Around 227,000 people reported working in care for the elderly and disabled in 2021, up 72% since 2016.
The number of occupational therapists has increased by 57%, while the number of psychologists and psychiatrists has increased by more than 40% over the past five years.
Obvious Workforce Transformation: Economists
The 2021 census figures point to a continued shift in Australia’s workforce as the economy shifts from lower-skilled jobs in sectors like manufacturing to more skilled jobs in technology and services.
BIS Oxford senior economist Sean Langcake said the move had been in the works for decades, but had been accelerated by the boom in mining investment between 2003 and 2013, which rendered other manufacturing sectors unstable. competitive with their global peers, shifting these jobs to service sectors.
“We had a very sustained period where the dollar was at a level that made many sectors uncompetitive globally,” Langcake said. TND.
“But we’ve always followed this trend because we’ve been lucky enough to be a high-wage economy.”
And to find work in these more specialized industries, many more people are taking further education and training than in 2011 or 2016.
More than half of Australians (over 11 million people) now have a tertiary or vocational qualification, a 20% increase since 2016 figures.
“We are also continuing to upgrade our skills, with 1.1 million people studying after having already achieved a non-school qualification,” the ABS said.
This increase in skills is crucial, Mr Langcake said, because it shows that most people are not being left behind as the demand for higher-skilled jobs increases.
Indeed, APAC economist Callam Pickering said growth in tech and care jobs is expected to continue, reflecting what Australians are spending their money on.
“When your income gets high, like it is in Australia, you find ways to spend it – you can’t just spend it on manufactured goods,” he said.
“And so services, whether it’s spending more on education, health, or real estate, all become ways in which we choose to spend our money.
“The jobs transition reflects that.”
Despite a huge increase in the number of Australians gaining skills in high-demand service sectors, large gaps remain between the number of workers in aged care and the growing demand as the population ages.
The Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) estimates that the shortage of older workers continues to worsen, from 17,000 workers in 2021 to around 30,000 to 35,000 in 2022.
The 2021 census shows that Australia depends on migrant labor to fill these jobs.
Around 40% of caregivers and nurses said they were born abroad, reflecting the massive role of migration in the growth of the economy.
Mr Pickering said it would be difficult for Australia to continue to bring in enough migrant workers to meet demand in service industries, as many other countries are going through similar transformations.
“The big challenge is that most advanced economies are going through exactly the same thing as Australia – an aging population and a huge increase in demand for healthcare and aged care services,” he said. declared.
“All of these countries are competing for the same types of people, which makes it very difficult to attract this talent.”
Alleviating these pressures will be a job for policymakers, Mr Pickering said, with “structural change” needed to encourage more local workers to upskill in these industries and to convince more migrant workers to bring their skills to Australia. .