Driving new approaches to digital skills education in Australia

Forging pathways for technology careers

Australia’s technology sector is expected to face a critical digital skills shortage. Currently employing 861,000 Australians, 286,000 more technology workers will be needed by 2025.


The digital skills crisis must be addressed

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) commissioned the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) to explore current pathways in Australian and internationally into digital jobs. The comprehensive report identified some real opportunities, but also some glaring gaps around the complexity of digital pathways.    

The digital skills shortage is detrimental to the competitiveness of Australian businesses in both the tech and non-tech sectors. We need to get more people into tech roles and increase access to the digital skill training which is needed across all industries. However, there is a lack of clarity and consistency around the pathways into tech roles. Based on this research and existing frameworks, the DSO is working hard to address this problem through simplifying the language used around career pathways to better align training providers, employers and learners.

According to research by the Tech Council of Australia, the boom in tech related jobs means there are now more software engineers and developers in Australia than hairdressers, plumbers, or high school teachers. That’s 1 in 16 working Australians, but the demand is only set to increase. To get people into these roles faster, a simple language that brings us together to enable the career opportunity and priorities to be seen is required, urgently.


The solution lies in employer led Digital Skills Pathways

If Australia’s technology sector is to reach its full potential, there will need to be a dedicated effort to help attract and nurture the talent required for tens of thousands of new digital careers.

As a result of this demand and NCVER report, the DSO is developing and trialling a world-first Pathways Model. Rather than focussing on specific occupations, the proposed model has four components - purpose, pathways, proficiency and performance – that can be used to define virtually all technology careers. This will provide a signposted journey that leads an individual or organisation to understand the skills needed for careers.

Each pathway will be shaped by industry demand and described in a unifying language and taxonomy recognised by all, to help align employers, learners and training providers:

The DSO is consulting with industry, the training sector and other key stakeholders on the proposed Pathways Model to test and confirm the critical building blocks needed to move forward.

This approach aims to:

  • better enable people to make informed decisions as they prepare for employment or self-employment, acquire digital skills, or change careers;
  • assist employers in identifying what they need;
  • align training providers on the priorities for design education or training strategies.

Download the summary of the research (pdf) and the full research report: