What’s Your Global Talent Strategy?

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It’s no secret that Australia is currently facing a shortage of software developers, and unfortunately new graduates and the 457 visa program can’t keep up with our growing demand for IT. In 2014, Australia’s digital economy was $79 billion, and it’s expected to climb to $139 billion by 2020.
This will create approximately 66,000 IT jobs, with graduates representing around 1% of the existing workforce in Australia each year. We then receive a further 14,000 IT workers from the 457 visa program every year, but it’s evident that neither new graduates or imported skills can meet Australia’s demand for software developers.

This will create approximately 66,000 IT jobs, with graduates representing around 1% of the existing workforce in Australia each year. We then receive a further 14,000 IT workers from the 457 visa program every year, but it’s evident that neither new graduates or imported skills can meet Australia’s demand for software developers.

Misconceptions about IT Opportunities in Australia
Organisations are currently forced to offshore much of their IT work due to the skills shortage, however the common misconception about a lack of opportunities in Australia is actually making the IT skills shortage worse, at least according to Clive Whincup, CIO of Westpac.

Mr Whincup acknowledged that many companies already offshore technology-related roles, although he also claimed that the idea that Australian companies are offshoring IT jobs because of costs is a fallacy, since salary gaps between the East and West are rapidly closing. Instead, he said, the reason most organisations need to offshore is because of a lack of skills “…there just aren’t enough people locally”, he said.

This has led to a cycle of young Australians choosing not to seek out jobs in IT due to the perception that these jobs are being shipped elsewhere, leading to more and more Australian companies needing to outsource their IT.

Fewer Australians Choosing STEM Subjects

Most Western countries are finding that the majority of kids simply aren’t interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and prefer English and humanities.

This has long been a problem in Australia, and has contributed to the shortage of software developers. Infosys recently surveyed 9000 people from the UK, Germany, Brazil, Australia, India, the US, South Africa, France, and China, aged between 16 and 25. The goal was to determine the education, skills and employment concerns of people in this age group.

The report found that Australians were the least confident when it came to their job prospects and technical abilities, and while they’re aware of their need to improve their skills, they’re also the least interested in increasing their STEM knowledge.
Less than a fifth of those surveyed wanted to learn how to code, build mobile apps or develop data skills, putting Australia at the bottom when compared to the other countries surveyed.

The problem becomes evident in high school, with only half of year 12 students in Australia studying science, even though 75% of the occupations with the most growth require STEM skills.

The numbers of students who are studying mathematics has also been declining for the past two decades, with nearly a quarter of students choosing not to take any science or math units in year 12. In December last year, the federal government responded to the problem by pledging $48 million in a bid to inspire STEM literacy, including $13 million to encourage women to work in STEM sectors.

While recruiters are seeking experienced software developers, they’re also often dealing with significant external pressure to hire quickly- something that’s easier said than done. As Similarweb’s Noam Schwartz says: “It’s very easy to hire ten new people, but it’s extremely hard to hire ten amazing people, and it’s very difficult to fire people”.

For many Australian companies, the search to find an experienced software developer seems unrelenting. Those who are looking for developers are often time-poor and are competing with other companies who are one-upping each other in a bid to provide the best (and most Google-like) work environment for their software developers so that they will stick around.

If you haven’t yet taken your search for talented developers global, you’re missing out. We’ll be discussing solutions to the developer shortage in more detail, so be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and sign up for email updates.

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