It is no surprise to learn that Australia’s digital workforce is shrinking.
Photo: Andrew Meares A number of industries, including telecommunications and mining, have seen their online offerings suffer.
While the overall digital economy is still growing, some sectors, like those in telecommunications and banking, are experiencing a decline.
That’s why the Australian government is trying to keep a close eye on where those jobs are going and what they’re doing to stay.
“Digital Australia is not a bad thing.
Digital is not bad at all, it’s a good thing,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said.
What is digital? “
But the digital economy needs to be sustainable.”
What is digital?
According to the Department of Digital, Digital Infrastructure and Communications, Australia’s population of people aged 15 years and over now stands at 3.7 million, or about 1.7 per cent of the population.
In other words, one in six people in Australia now has access to a smartphone, tablet, computer or internet-connected device.
A quarter of this population is in the 18 to 24 age group.
And the figure for this group is set to increase to 40 per cent by 2025.
So what is digital employment?
Digital jobs are those that require skills such as writing, speaking, designing and programming.
They are often done remotely or in the home.
The number of people employed in these types of jobs is expected to grow by 12 per cent annually from 2017 to 2025.
The government also aims to create digital jobs in the public sector, which is estimated to be worth about $8 billion a year.
“In the next 10 years, digital will have a greater and greater impact on Australian life,” Minister for Digital Transformation, Scott Morrison, said.
And he wants to be sure the new digital workforce stays healthy.
“If we want to see an increase in digital jobs and job growth in the next decade, we need to make sure we have the right skills, the right education and training and the right support,” he said.
What’s the state of digital employment in Australia?
A survey conducted by the Australian Digital Industry Association (ADIA) for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) last year showed that around 70 per cent (74.5 million) of the workforce in Australia’s leading digital sectors were employed in online-based positions.
Digital jobs were not only needed for those in the IT and telecommunications industries, but also in finance, insurance, real estate, real-estate management, healthcare, retail and public administration.
The report also found that more than 60 per cent were employed on a freelance basis.
What do digital jobs mean to the economy?
“It is vital that digital skills are taught in the schools,” said Mr Morrison.
“As we’re building this digital workforce, we also need to be investing in the quality of the digital workforce,” he added.
“And the quality should be better than ever before.”
For example, while the number of online learners has increased by more than 50 per cent in the past five years, the number that are on apprenticeships is also growing.
It’s this sector that is currently facing the biggest challenge in the digital industry.
About 40 per of the nation’s digital workers are on paid apprenticeships.
This means that about a third of the total workforce are not working full-time, but are on some sort of temporary, unpaid or contractual arrangement.
This is particularly true of those who are still in their 20s and 30s.
What can we do to keep up?
The government has created an advisory group to look at what’s going on in the industry and what can be done to help it thrive.
And it is keen to do more.
“We have to be looking at new opportunities and new technologies,” Mr Morrison said, pointing out that digital workers need to get on with their careers and learn new skills.
“There’s no point having a digital workforce if you’re not learning new things.”
He said there was a need for training and apprenticeships in the areas of digital media and digital finance, as well as a “Digital Jobs Australia” initiative.
That group will look at how to improve the digital education system.
And Mr Morrison wants to see a push towards a more flexible and flexible work environment.
“Because it’s important that we don’t have a digital job that doesn’t pay.””
You’re going to have to have flexibility for people to come and go,” he advised.
“Because it’s important that we don’t have a digital job that doesn’t pay.”