$35 billion technology trap: Qld needs 600,000 more workers to meet 2030 goal

Australia was on track to have a funding gap for technology start ups of $35 billion and still needed 600,000 workers to reach its 2030 goal, according to Australian Tech Council chair Robyn Denholm.

Jul 20, 2023, updated Jul 20, 2023
Tesla chair Robyn Denholm says Australia is at risk of losing the massive digital opportunity ahead (Image; Women's agenda)

Tesla chair Robyn Denholm says Australia is at risk of losing the massive digital opportunity ahead (Image; Women's agenda)

The sector already employs about 935,000 nationally but was critically short of females. Only about a quarter of the workforce were women.

There was also a critical shortage of workers with the skill to develop companies at the scale-up stage with Australia home to about 1 in 1000 workers globally that had that experience. In comparison, Israel has 216.

“Australia has some of the best tech talent in the world. We just don’t have enough of it,” Denholm said.

“This is a missed opportunity for our economy.”

Denholm, who is also the chair of Tesla, said there needed to be retraining programs for women and the industry needed to dispel the myth that tech was a closed shop to mature workers.

The industry also needed to tell women that although there was still a gender pay gap in tech, it was half that of other industries and it had more opportunities for work-from-home roles.

“The beauty of tech is it is more egalitarian and you are less likely to be asked what school you went to.”

And the industry needed to champion new strategies to get more workers, particularly women.

Technology One chief executive Ed Chung said he recently attended a careers night for his two teenage daughters and found that students were being pushed into careers as doctors, lawyers and accountants and technology did not get a look in.

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Denholm said the industry was booming and had created 100 tech companies worth more than $100 million. More than 20 have gone on to become unicorns (worth $1 billion or more).

But there were problems.

“We need to improve our access to capital. We are on track to have a funding gap of $53 billion by 2030,” she said.

“Our research shows that at the early stage our access to funding is improving, but in scale-ups it is well behind the US.”

She said Australia also needed to improve its regulatory regime to make it easier for companies to sell globally.


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