Tech leaders highlight 6 skill sets most important to their businesses

Tuesday, 04 May, 2021

Tech leaders highlight 6 skill sets most important to their businesses

Specialists in cybersecurity, digital transformation, cloud computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are in short supply and most urgently needed to support businesses over the next 2–5 years. This is according to Randstand Technologies’ nationwide survey of more than 400 tech leaders.

Alex Jones, Director of Randstad Technologies, said the findings reveal a worrying trend whereby a shortage of talent in emerging technology has the potential to pose a serious threat to the growth and competitiveness of Australian businesses.

“The good news is that there is a lot that businesses can do to combat this skills shortage depending on whether you need a short-term, mid-term or long-term strategy,” said Jones.

“The coronavirus pandemic, economic backdrop and increased spate of cybersecurity breaches in Australia has seen the technology sector emerge as a key driver for both our economy and our way of life in a world with COVID-19. But the almost-overnight surge in demand has left the pool of talent in the emerging tech market behind in the dust.”

Cost was found to be the biggest barrier to securing talent for businesses and is only set to increase with demand. As a result, half of the leaders polled expect emerging tech specialist salaries to grow by 10% within two years, and a third predict a 20% growth.

One in five leaders (22%) say talent shortages will knock their ability to retain existing talent, reflecting an increasingly competitive marketplace. Randstad Australia’s 2020 Employer Brand Research Report further suggests that talent with niche skills can get a 10–15% pay rise by moving jobs.

Businesses desperate to bolster headcount are planning a mixed solution of reskilling staff (36%), hiring experienced talent (27%), outsourcing (17%), hiring graduates (10%), contractors (5%) and engaging consultancy partners (4%). However, leaders have claimed that the top three barriers for securing talent are budget constraints, meeting salary demands and growing skills shortages.

If employers cannot find the right talent within the next 12 months, they will consider upskilling existing employees (60%), supporting educational programs in Australia (34%), or capitalising on the work-from-home revolution by hiring remote domestic (32%) or international (18%) workers.

Without the right talent in the emerging technology space, over four in 10 decision-makers say their business will be unable to meet future demand and grow, while a third (34%) claim they will lose their competitive advantage. With the accelerated adoption of emerging technologies becoming ever more critical, this research highlights the impact the growing skills shortage is having on the labour market and the subsequent concerns of tech leaders in meeting demand and futureproofing the Australian tech industry.

Below are key highlights from the survey:

  • Cybersecurity (83%), digital transformation (66%), cloud computing (65%) and big data analytics (60%), AI automation and robotics (50%), and IoT (44%) are six most important skill sets to tech leaders’ businesses.
  • 32% of businesses plan to increase headcount in emerging technologies by over 20% in the near future; cybersecurity tops the list of anticipated headcount growth, while ranking just below AI, automation and robotics in scarcity.
  • Cost is the biggest barrier to securing talent for businesses and is only set to increase with demand.
  • Leaders are finding it difficult to shift focus from generalised roles to niche specialisation, as emerging technologies become increasingly critical to delivering success for Australian businesses.
  • Sectors most important to delivering business needs over the next 2–5 years have been identified as cybersecurity (83%), digital transformation (66%), cloud computing (65%) and big data analytics (60%).

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