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Is it time to go back to school?

Jessica Jasch | Jan 11, 2016

According to a report from Deloitte in collaboration with the Australian Computer Society, it may be time for IT professionals to consider heading back to school.

A demand for higher qualification

According to this new report, the overall demand for ICT professionals is set to increase at a healthy 3.4 per cent for per annum for the next six years. However, the demand for those IT professionals with postgraduate qualifications is set to increase at a rate of 4.2 per cent. Higher qualifications are quickly becoming a standard for the industry.

As Australia heads toward a more heavily ICT-based economy, the demand for digital knowledge is increasing across all industries, from retail to human resources. As quoted in a November 6 feature in The Australian, Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, even goes so far as to say that "there's hardly any industry now in which you don't use programming skills". From retail to recruitment services, ICT pervades every aspect of modern business.

This change comes from a shift in Australia's focus from the mining boom (now swiftly coming to an end) to a more knowledge-based economy. There has been a swift adoption of ICT for business practices. Our ICT workforce numbers are average (3.6 percent of the workforce are ICT specialists) compared to other similar countries, but the research expenditure in ICT remains low at 10 per cent of the research and development budget.

Paradigm shift

However, this status quo is not to last. There have already been pushes in the education sector to start teaching computing and coding skills earlier. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was reported as saying that coding is as "fundamental as reading and writing", and the new school curriculum to start next year is introducing the skill as early as primary school.

This is a change that begins at the very roots of Australian society. As children begin learning programming younger, the demand for more advanced ICT skills will only increase. Tertiary students with programming knowledge from primary school could very easily outpace any professionals that lag behind.

ICT and the people who make up the industry are set to drive the Australian economy. Businesses are swiftly adopting new technologies and strategies that make computing knowledge a requirement, while the demand for higher qualifications increases every year. As demand increases, knowledge of solutions such as management software and other administrative tools may become commonplace.

For those interested in joining the industry, now is better than ever to take the leap. For those current ICT professionals, it may be time to consider heading back to school.

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