AUSTRALIA’S MOST POPULAR BUSINESS PODCAST

Fear & Greed, Fear and Greed

ACS is unveiling its Digital Pulse Report – prepared by Deloitte Access Economics – on the state of the technology industry. ACS is the peak body representing over 47,000 tech professionals in Australia.

Sean Aylmer talks to Siobhan Casey, head of growth at ACS, about the report, and why a staggering 95% of the Australian workforce needs re-skilling.

Find out more: https://fearandgreed.com.au

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1
00:00:04,080 –> 00:00:07,350
Sean Aylmer: Welcome to the Fear and Greed Daily Business Interview. Today,

2
00:00:07,380 –> 00:00:11,789
Sean Aylmer: ACS is unveiling its Digital Pulse report prepared by Deloitte

3
00:00:11,789 –> 00:00:16,019
Sean Aylmer: Access Economics on the state of the technology industry. ACS

4
00:00:16,020 –> 00:00:19,950
Sean Aylmer: is the peak body representing over 47, 000 tech professionals

5
00:00:19,950 –> 00:00:23,939
Sean Aylmer: in Australia. The report says that AI, artificial intelligence, is

6
00:00:23,940 –> 00:00:28,259
Sean Aylmer: going to supercharge the skills crisis in Australia. A staggering

7
00:00:28,290 –> 00:00:33,240
Sean Aylmer: 95% of the Australian workforce needs re- skilling as technologies,

8
00:00:33,240 –> 00:00:37,439
Sean Aylmer: particularly artificial intelligence, are poised to profoundly reshape their roles.

9
00:00:37,710 –> 00:00:40,860
Sean Aylmer: Siobhan Casey, Head of Growth at ACS is with us

10
00:00:40,860 –> 00:00:43,350
Sean Aylmer: this morning. Siobhan, thanks for coming onto the show.

11
00:00:43,650 –> 00:00:45,030
Siobhan Casey: Thanks, Sean. Thanks, and good to be here.

12
00:00:45,540 –> 00:00:48,870
Sean Aylmer: The report’s pretty sobering. Now, before we delve into AI

13
00:00:48,870 –> 00:00:51,809
Sean Aylmer: specifically, what does the report say generally about the tech

14
00:00:51,809 –> 00:00:53,639
Sean Aylmer: sector and the skills crisis?

15
00:00:54,510 –> 00:00:59,220
Siobhan Casey: Well, it’s fairly compelling. So the headline number is 928,000

16
00:00:59,220 –> 00:01:01,740
Siobhan Casey: Australians now work in technology, which is a 6. 2%

17
00:01:02,070 –> 00:01:05,578
Siobhan Casey: jump on last year. Interestingly, this is our ninth Digital

18
00:01:05,580 –> 00:01:10,949
Siobhan Casey: Pulse and in 2015 we noted about just over 600, 000 Australians working

19
00:01:10,949 –> 00:01:13,020
Siobhan Casey: in tech. So it’s continuing to grow at quite a

20
00:01:13,049 –> 00:01:15,780
Siobhan Casey: fast rate. By 2024, we project it to be over

21
00:01:15,780 –> 00:01:19,080
Siobhan Casey: 1 million and it continue to 1.2 over the next five years.

22
00:01:19,560 –> 00:01:22,199
Siobhan Casey: Some of the critical things, and I think you talked

23
00:01:22,200 –> 00:01:25,259
Siobhan Casey: about it in your opening there, Sean, about the artificial

24
00:01:25,259 –> 00:01:28,529
Siobhan Casey: intelligence and generative AI, I think that that’s probably something

25
00:01:28,680 –> 00:01:31,649
Siobhan Casey: we should really unpack and what the report does unpack

26
00:01:32,040 –> 00:01:34,800
Siobhan Casey: and if you just think about the absolute scale of

27
00:01:34,800 –> 00:01:37,110
Siobhan Casey: the adoption of tech, and one of the ways that

28
00:01:37,200 –> 00:01:38,819
Siobhan Casey: we do that in the industry is to talk about

29
00:01:38,819 –> 00:01:41,309
Siobhan Casey: the benchmark of how long it takes a new technology

30
00:01:41,309 –> 00:01:45,000
Siobhan Casey: to reach 100 million users. So some household names, Netflix,

31
00:01:45,000 –> 00:01:47,639
Siobhan Casey: 10 years, Facebook, four and a half years, TikTok, nine

32
00:01:47,639 –> 00:01:53,070
Siobhan Casey: months, ChatGPT took 60 days. So that rapid pace coupled

33
00:01:53,070 –> 00:01:56,309
Siobhan Casey: with already a tech skill shortage is proving to be

34
00:01:56,309 –> 00:01:58,860
Siobhan Casey: quite a challenge for Australia and globally.

35
00:01:59,849 –> 00:02:03,000
Sean Aylmer: Okay, so a simple question, Siobhan, how do we fix

36
00:02:03,000 –> 00:02:03,900
Sean Aylmer: it? What do we do?

37
00:02:04,260 –> 00:02:08,100
Siobhan Casey: Oh, well, we wave a magic wand. No, look, there’s

38
00:02:08,280 –> 00:02:10,680
Siobhan Casey: a number of things. It’s quite profound. So some of

39
00:02:10,680 –> 00:02:13,860
Siobhan Casey: the evidence shows that the shortage in critical technologies will

40
00:02:13,860 –> 00:02:17,640
Siobhan Casey: impact 95% of the workforce, and we’ve got two competing

41
00:02:17,669 –> 00:02:21,150
Siobhan Casey: challenges. There is a need for about 60,000 new tech

42
00:02:21,150 –> 00:02:24,269
Siobhan Casey: workers a year, but how do you create that talent?

43
00:02:24,270 –> 00:02:27,120
Siobhan Casey: So 4% of girls currently have an interest in pursuing a

44
00:02:27,120 –> 00:02:30,779
Siobhan Casey: STEM career compared to 16% of boys. We’re only creating

45
00:02:30,780 –> 00:02:34,469
Siobhan Casey: about 10,000 domestic graduates a year, and that was based

46
00:02:34,469 –> 00:02:39,839
Siobhan Casey: on 2019 data.
VET sector or the TAFE sector, vocational training rates remain low,

47
00:02:39,900 –> 00:02:43,320
Siobhan Casey: they were higher in 2016. We’re producing about 60,000 students

48
00:02:43,350 –> 00:02:46,770
Siobhan Casey: through that vehicle, and the imbalance is just creating a

49
00:02:46,770 –> 00:02:49,919
Siobhan Casey: big issue. And in balance with that, we also have

50
00:02:49,919 –> 00:02:53,400
Siobhan Casey: evidence that those that are graduating don’t even have the

51
00:02:53,400 –> 00:02:56,700
Siobhan Casey: right skills at hand today. So only 3% of tech

52
00:02:56,700 –> 00:03:00,179
Siobhan Casey: employees believe their IT graduates are job ready. So we’ve

53
00:03:00,180 –> 00:03:02,820
Siobhan Casey: got not enough coming in and those that are graduating

54
00:03:02,850 –> 00:03:06,060
Siobhan Casey: aren’t job ready and ready to get on the tools.

55
00:03:06,419 –> 00:03:09,690
Siobhan Casey: And then you also have obviously a rapidly expanding and

56
00:03:09,690 –> 00:03:14,160
Siobhan Casey: scaling tech environment. It’s not really a tech skills gap

57
00:03:14,160 –> 00:03:16,771
Siobhan Casey: anymore. It’s a tech skills conundrum in our opinion.

58
00:03:16,770 –> 00:03:20,940
Sean Aylmer: Okay. Now, I have a bit of a conflict in this

59
00:03:20,940 –> 00:03:22,950
Sean Aylmer: because I do have an interest in a cyber training

60
00:03:22,950 –> 00:03:25,440
Sean Aylmer: business, so I’m just letting our listeners know that upfront.

61
00:03:25,950 –> 00:03:28,530
Sean Aylmer: What is the training that’s needed though? You talk about

62
00:03:28,530 –> 00:03:31,469
Sean Aylmer: TAFE and universities offer courses and then there are private

63
00:03:31,469 –> 00:03:35,579
Sean Aylmer: businesses that offer training and certifications and all that, but

64
00:03:36,029 –> 00:03:39,390
Sean Aylmer: it’s not particularly… If you want to be a lawyer,

65
00:03:39,420 –> 00:03:41,220
Sean Aylmer: you know exactly the path you’ve got to follow.

66
00:03:41,310 –> 00:03:42,090
Siobhan Casey: Absolutely.

67
00:03:42,150 –> 00:03:43,530
Sean Aylmer: It’s just not the case in tech.

68
00:03:44,190 –> 00:03:47,520
Siobhan Casey: No. Look, we’ve done some great work already in collaboration

69
00:03:47,520 –> 00:03:51,870
Siobhan Casey: with the New South Wales Skills Department and that’s what’s

70
00:03:51,870 –> 00:03:54,840
Siobhan Casey: required. We do need to work collaboratively, industry, government, educators,

71
00:03:55,170 –> 00:03:58,950
Siobhan Casey: because we still have a very strong prevalence or requirement.

72
00:03:58,950 –> 00:04:01,560
Siobhan Casey: When you look at the job ads today, 97% ask

73
00:04:01,560 –> 00:04:04,740
Siobhan Casey: for a bachelor’s of IT, but we’d need to look

74
00:04:04,740 –> 00:04:07,349
Siobhan Casey: at what’s working in that space and potentially what could

75
00:04:07,349 –> 00:04:10,109
Siobhan Casey: work in the VET sector. Or micro- credentials, cyber, for

76
00:04:10,109 –> 00:04:13,320
Siobhan Casey: instance, as you’ve referred to, the challenge is we aren’t

77
00:04:13,320 –> 00:04:15,840
Siobhan Casey: at a level yet to understand skills at a micro

78
00:04:15,840 –> 00:04:19,110
Siobhan Casey: level. We still train and recruit and focus our industry

79
00:04:19,110 –> 00:04:21,599
Siobhan Casey: around jobs. And I think that’s where we’ve got to

80
00:04:21,599 –> 00:04:24,568
Siobhan Casey: start moving forward to a different framework, a skills first

81
00:04:24,570 –> 00:04:28,020
Siobhan Casey: framework, which is what we advocate for in this report.

82
00:04:28,320 –> 00:04:31,410
Sean Aylmer: Okay. So if you’re talking about generative AI, what are the

83
00:04:31,410 –> 00:04:36,150
Sean Aylmer: skills that people need in generative AI? And I know

84
00:04:36,150 –> 00:04:39,210
Sean Aylmer: that’s a bit of an unfair question because that area

85
00:04:39,210 –> 00:04:43,589
Sean Aylmer: is changing so quickly as well, but at the moment,

86
00:04:44,130 –> 00:04:47,789
Sean Aylmer: what would one of those hundreds of companies now trying

87
00:04:47,789 –> 00:04:51,299
Sean Aylmer: to use ChatGPT or something, what is it that they’re looking for?

88
00:04:51,779 –> 00:04:54,180
Siobhan Casey: Well, let’s just maybe put it in context. So I

89
00:04:54,180 –> 00:04:58,050
Siobhan Casey: talked before about the rapid use and experience with ChatGPT

90
00:04:58,050 –> 00:05:00,750
Siobhan Casey: or generative AI. What the evidence shows us is that

91
00:05:00,750 –> 00:05:05,070
Siobhan Casey: is generally by digital natives. So the younger students in

92
00:05:05,070 –> 00:05:08,849
Siobhan Casey: school, et cetera, and to a lesser extent employers. And

93
00:05:08,850 –> 00:05:10,860
Siobhan Casey: what we’re seeing is students are using it for study

94
00:05:10,860 –> 00:05:13,170
Siobhan Casey: and school and then what they’re going to be doing

95
00:05:13,170 –> 00:05:16,200
Siobhan Casey: in the coming years is entering the workforce and driving

96
00:05:16,200 –> 00:05:19,589
Siobhan Casey: an expectation of employers to be using it well and

97
00:05:19,860 –> 00:05:22,050
Siobhan Casey: having a strong deployment of this tool. And I think

98
00:05:22,379 –> 00:05:26,070
Siobhan Casey: November the 3rd was it, we saw an paper article

99
00:05:26,070 –> 00:05:29,850
Siobhan Casey: about the use of generative AI for a parliamentary inquiry

100
00:05:29,850 –> 00:05:32,549
Siobhan Casey: against the large four consulting firms. So we’re still not

101
00:05:32,550 –> 00:05:34,589
Siobhan Casey: getting it right in organizations.
So some of the roles

102
00:05:34,589 –> 00:05:37,109
Siobhan Casey: that will come down the pipeline are think such as

103
00:05:37,110 –> 00:05:42,059
Siobhan Casey: an AI ethicist, AI personality designers, virtual world safety officers.

104
00:05:42,059 –> 00:05:43,740
Siobhan Casey: So, if you’ve had any time, Sean, in a virtual

105
00:05:43,740 –> 00:05:47,760
Siobhan Casey: world you need OHS provisions there as well. Quantum data

106
00:05:47,760 –> 00:05:50,310
Siobhan Casey: analysts. There’s a whole range of roles that we foresee

107
00:05:50,339 –> 00:05:52,888
Siobhan Casey: and that’s only using the data and insights we have

108
00:05:52,889 –> 00:05:56,639
Siobhan Casey: today. We genuinely expect that to grow beyond what we’ve

109
00:05:56,639 –> 00:05:57,479
Siobhan Casey: been able to calculate.

110
00:05:58,020 –> 00:05:59,940
Sean Aylmer: Stay with me Siobhan. We’ll be back in a minute.

111
00:05:59,940 –> 00:06:11,428
Sean Aylmer: My guest today is Siobhan Casey, Head of Growth at ACS. Okay,

112
00:06:11,428 –> 00:06:12,749
Sean Aylmer: I just want to go back to the training issue.

113
00:06:12,750 –> 00:06:16,889
Sean Aylmer: Is the training industry able to keep up to develop

114
00:06:16,889 –> 00:06:18,479
Sean Aylmer: the skills needed?

115
00:06:19,860 –> 00:06:22,020
Siobhan Casey: Look, I think it’s a fantastic question. I think it’s

116
00:06:22,020 –> 00:06:25,290
Siobhan Casey: multifaceted and it’s more than a binary review of education

117
00:06:25,290 –> 00:06:28,980
Siobhan Casey: providers. So obviously it’s an ecosystem where you want employers

118
00:06:28,980 –> 00:06:32,130
Siobhan Casey: to have confidence in the skills people are presenting. How

119
00:06:32,130 –> 00:06:34,619
Siobhan Casey: do you do that? So in the absence of having

120
00:06:34,619 –> 00:06:39,238
Siobhan Casey: confidence in other than micro- credentials for cloud computing, et

121
00:06:39,240 –> 00:06:41,880
Siobhan Casey: cetera, they work on a bachelor’s of IT or they’ve done

122
00:06:41,880 –> 00:06:44,370
Siobhan Casey: a degree, hopefully they’ve got some skills. If you were

123
00:06:44,370 –> 00:06:49,319
Siobhan Casey: to mask or badge other credentials, cert fours or other

124
00:06:49,320 –> 00:06:53,309
Siobhan Casey: micro courses, they need to have market accreditation and badging,

125
00:06:53,339 –> 00:06:56,640
Siobhan Casey: I think to give the employer confidence that this applicant

126
00:06:56,640 –> 00:06:59,400
Siobhan Casey: or this resource has the right skills to do the

127
00:06:59,400 –> 00:07:02,880
Siobhan Casey: things required in their business. So it’s multifaceted. We do

128
00:07:02,880 –> 00:07:04,080
Siobhan Casey: need to do more work on this.

129
00:07:04,290 –> 00:07:06,000
Sean Aylmer: Okay. I also want to come back to something else

130
00:07:06,000 –> 00:07:09,929
Sean Aylmer: that you mentioned about women, females shifting into the area.

131
00:07:09,960 –> 00:07:13,410
Sean Aylmer: Now, was it 6% or something you said, ridiculously low?

132
00:07:13,410 –> 00:07:15,000
Siobhan Casey: Yeah, it’s only 4% of women-

133
00:07:15,000 –> 00:07:15,001
Sean Aylmer: 4%.

134
00:07:15,001 –> 00:07:18,780
Siobhan Casey: … have a current interest in STEM. I mean the

135
00:07:18,780 –> 00:07:21,090
Siobhan Casey: upside, not to sound like it’s all doom and gloom,

136
00:07:21,450 –> 00:07:25,589
Siobhan Casey: 70% of people working in tech today didn’t come from

137
00:07:25,590 –> 00:07:27,780
Siobhan Casey: the tech background. They don’t have a tech degree. So

138
00:07:27,780 –> 00:07:30,599
Siobhan Casey: that’s a bit of optimism that potentially we can attract

139
00:07:30,600 –> 00:07:33,180
Siobhan Casey: those in other sectors and we can see some of

140
00:07:33,180 –> 00:07:35,460
Siobhan Casey: that already happening in the Digital Pulse this year as

141
00:07:35,460 –> 00:07:39,150
Siobhan Casey: well, is the higher salaries paid in the tech sector

142
00:07:39,150 –> 00:07:42,450
Siobhan Casey: compared to non- tech roles. So hopefully that will be

143
00:07:42,450 –> 00:07:44,640
Siobhan Casey: enough to entice people to come over.

144
00:07:45,210 –> 00:07:48,270
Sean Aylmer: Do we need to do more at an educational level

145
00:07:48,510 –> 00:07:51,240
Sean Aylmer: on this though? Because, I mean, salary is to a

146
00:07:51,240 –> 00:07:54,300
Sean Aylmer: point, but lots of individuals need a lot more than money.

147
00:07:55,080 –> 00:07:57,870
Siobhan Casey: Absolutely. And we do need to support the teachers on

148
00:07:57,870 –> 00:08:01,799
Siobhan Casey: the frontline in schools to be able to feel confident

149
00:08:01,799 –> 00:08:04,619
Siobhan Casey: in teaching these courses. We had laptops in schools in

150
00:08:04,619 –> 00:08:07,530
Siobhan Casey: New South Wales brought in in 2009, but we still

151
00:08:07,530 –> 00:08:10,470
Siobhan Casey: don’t have a course subject on tech. The expectation with the

152
00:08:10,470 –> 00:08:13,740
Siobhan Casey: current curriculum is that there’s tech imbued across every subject,

153
00:08:13,740 –> 00:08:15,989
Siobhan Casey: which is great, but I think there is probably a

154
00:08:15,990 –> 00:08:19,170
Siobhan Casey: place for a core subject in tech. We also in

155
00:08:19,170 –> 00:08:22,109
Siobhan Casey: our Digital Pulse advocate for a mentoring program throughout the

156
00:08:22,109 –> 00:08:26,310
Siobhan Casey: schooling environment, which is supported by private industry. We need

157
00:08:26,310 –> 00:08:28,350
Siobhan Casey: to do a number of things, and I think this

158
00:08:28,650 –> 00:08:31,470
Siobhan Casey: all hands on deck, which is what we’re advocating in

159
00:08:31,470 –> 00:08:35,069
Siobhan Casey: this report, is that requirement for us to really come

160
00:08:35,070 –> 00:08:37,530
Siobhan Casey: together and think about what is currently working, look to

161
00:08:37,530 –> 00:08:40,409
Siobhan Casey: scale that nationally and then where are the gaps and

162
00:08:40,410 –> 00:08:45,000
Siobhan Casey: using data to identify what would solve that, rapidly focus

163
00:08:45,000 –> 00:08:46,830
Siobhan Casey: and deploy money and scale.

164
00:08:47,429 –> 00:08:51,300
Sean Aylmer: I know that ACS is talking about a national digital

165
00:08:51,300 –> 00:08:54,870
Sean Aylmer: skills strategy. Is there not a national digital skills strategy?

166
00:08:56,009 –> 00:08:58,919
Siobhan Casey: Not currently. So there’s a lot of great work already

167
00:08:58,949 –> 00:09:02,340
Siobhan Casey: from the new government’s focus on industry and jobs and

168
00:09:02,640 –> 00:09:04,858
Siobhan Casey: been, as I mentioned, very pleased with the New South

169
00:09:04,860 –> 00:09:08,429
Siobhan Casey: Wales Skills Board collaborative approach, which will soon be launched

170
00:09:08,610 –> 00:09:10,740
Siobhan Casey: with 30 partners in the New South Wales government, New

171
00:09:10,740 –> 00:09:13,290
Siobhan Casey: South Wales being the biggest state of course. There’s a

172
00:09:13,290 –> 00:09:16,619
Siobhan Casey: number of really good, I suppose, flags that we’re working

173
00:09:16,619 –> 00:09:18,268
Siobhan Casey: in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of

174
00:09:18,300 –> 00:09:19,078
Siobhan Casey: work to be done.

175
00:09:19,800 –> 00:09:23,010
Sean Aylmer: Okay. Siobhan, where would you hope that we can get

176
00:09:23,010 –> 00:09:24,780
Sean Aylmer: to over the next 10 years or so?

177
00:09:24,780 –> 00:09:28,199
Siobhan Casey: Look, it’s a great question and as I’ve just said,

178
00:09:28,200 –> 00:09:30,630
Siobhan Casey: there’s a significant amount of work to be done. But

179
00:09:30,630 –> 00:09:33,660
Siobhan Casey: when I look at Australia, the Digital Pulse identifies also

180
00:09:33,660 –> 00:09:37,620
Siobhan Casey: our global competitiveness, particularly around critical emerging technologies. And we

181
00:09:37,620 –> 00:09:41,309
Siobhan Casey: are falling short of our global partners. So the measure

182
00:09:41,309 –> 00:09:45,539
Siobhan Casey: of GDP shows that Australia invested only 6. 7%, whereas Japan 8.

183
00:09:45,809 –> 00:09:48,750
Siobhan Casey: 2, the US 7. 8. And if you’re a sort

184
00:09:48,750 –> 00:09:50,728
Siobhan Casey: of middling kind of country when it comes to this

185
00:09:50,730 –> 00:09:53,939
Siobhan Casey: level of investment, that is direct economic loss and social

186
00:09:53,940 –> 00:09:57,450
Siobhan Casey: opportunity, which we’re foregoing. So very keen for us to

187
00:09:57,480 –> 00:10:01,620
Siobhan Casey: lift the investment, deploy those funds in the appropriate manner

188
00:10:01,679 –> 00:10:06,090
Siobhan Casey: collaboratively across Australia so we can collectively resolve this and

189
00:10:06,090 –> 00:10:09,900
Siobhan Casey: I suppose realize our economic opportunities throughout this next decade.

190
00:10:10,289 –> 00:10:12,240
Sean Aylmer: Siobhan, thanks for talking to Fear and Greed.

191
00:10:12,840 –> 00:10:13,828
Siobhan Casey: Thank you very much, Sean.

192
00:10:14,190 –> 00:10:17,160
Sean Aylmer: That was Siobhan Casey, Head of Growth at ACS. This

193
00:10:17,160 –> 00:10:19,679
Sean Aylmer: is the Fear and Greed Daily Interview. Don’t forget, join

194
00:10:19,679 –> 00:10:21,599
Sean Aylmer: us every morning for the full episode of Fear and

195
00:10:21,599 –> 00:10:25,650
Sean Aylmer: Greed, Australia’s best business podcast. I’m Sean Aylmer, enjoy your day.