The number of Australian workers requiring digital skills will need to increase by 79% from today’s levels by 2025 – the equivalent of an additional 6.5 million newly skilled and reskilled digital workers, on top of the existing workforce, according to a new research report from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches report, prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta, and commissioned by AWS, predicts large-scale data modelling, software operations support, web/game/software development, cloud architecture design, and cybersecurity skills to be the top five in-demand digital skills in Australia by 2025.

The study found that the average Australian worker will need to develop seven new digital skills within the next five years to keep pace with technology advancements and demand.

By providing products and services, supporting the development of new technology, and generating local employment, the technology sector currently contributes about AU$122 billion to the Australian economy or around 6.6% of the country’s GDP. The contribution is expected to grow to about AU$207 billion per year by 2030 with the right policy settings and digital skills training.

Commenting on the report, AlphaBeta managing director, Dr. Fraser Thompson, noted that Australia’s economy has been battered by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and to build back better, digital skills development needs to be at the core.

“Our research shows that business-as-usual approaches to digital skill development won’t get us there. A digital worker in Australia today has about 6.5 digital skills on average, but all workers – digital or not – will need to gain an additional seven skills to keep pace with technological change by 2025,” she said.

“We also need to go beyond just upgrading existing digital workers – the majority of new skill requirements will be with new job seekers, those involuntarily excluded from the workforce, and workers who do not use digital skills in their jobs today. The challenge is huge, but the payoff would be tremendous in terms of stronger economic growth, higher incomes, and a more equitable and resilient economy.”

Technology is redefining the Australian workforce and the skills needed to remain competitive, according to AWS director and country leader for Australia and New Zealand Iain Rouse.

“The change in skills reflects the rapid pace of technology change. Take one example – over the last two years alone, 90% of the data in the world was generated. Keeping pace with this volume of new data and technologies requires skills to increase rapidly. We need to change our approach on how quickly our workers can be upskilled,” he told Retailbiz.

“It’s up to business, government and education institutions to create the conditions of success. We need to focus on micro-skilling, where skill training can be achieved in hours, and credentials can be achieved in days, rather than months and years.

“The seven digital skills workers need to learn are all basic-level skills, but they differ across workers depending on their specific job needs. The skills relate to the following competence areas: devices and software operations; information and data literacy, digital content creation, cloud computing, digital communication and collaboration, digital problem solving, digital security and ethics, and digital project management.

“In retail, this could include a sales assistant interpreting a dashboard or data analysis of goods sold by salesperson, to understand how they are performing against their colleagues. Or the creation of social posts to promote new styles and trends to their customers.

“It could also include a manager making use of cloud-based rostering and stock management software, or managing a big sales period using digital project management tools. For retail employees at all levels it also includes the application of basic data privacy and cyber-hygiene principles when using computers at work, for example when adding customer details into loyalty programs and when managing sensitive data for email or social promotions.”

Pictured: AWS director and country leader for Australia and New Zealand Iain Rouse.