As technology continues to transform our lives and work at an individual, organisational, and macroeconomic level, Gallup - in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) - has conducted the largest global survey of its type to shed light on the economic, innovation, and career benefits of investing in advanced digital skills. In the study, “The Economic Benefits of a Tech-Savvy Workforce,” Gallup surveyed more than 30,000 workers with access to the internet in Australia and 18 other countries, including India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. It also surveyed 9,000 employers in these countries. In Australia the survey results are based on responses from 2,164 workers, and 775 employers.

Workers who use some level of digital skills in their job were segmented into three categories based on whether they use:

  • basic digital skills (e.g. email, word processing, social media posting)
  • intermediate digital skills (e.g. drag-and-drop website design, troubleshooting applications, data analysis)
  • advanced digital skills (e.g. cloud architecture or maintenance, software or application development, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning)

Advanced digital skills add AU$41 billion to Australia’s annual GDP

The research shows that higher incomes are not only transforming the lives of workers with advanced digital skills, but also yielding big economic benefits for the national economy. Australian workers who use advanced digital skills are propelling the country’s growth - they add an estimated AU$41 billion to the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). When you combine all workers that use any level of digital skills, the net economic benefit to Australia is almost AU$68.2 billion a year. The average Australian worker with advanced digital skills earns 24% more than workers with a similar education who do not use digital skills at work, and workers that use intermediate digital skills earn 16% more than their non-digital counterparts.

Investing in digital skills has big benefits for workers and organisations

Beyond enjoying higher salaries, the research shows that nearly two in three (65%) Australian workers who use advanced digital skills express higher job satisfaction, compared to 56% that use basic digital skills. The research also shows organisations that rely on advanced digital skills and cloud technologies significantly outperform their non-digital peers. Cloud technology appears to facilitate this growth as 61% of Australian organisations that run some or most of their business on the cloud report steady annual revenue growth, compared to 47% of organisations that don’t use the cloud for their business. Additionally, 58% of Australian companies that run some or most of their business in the cloud introduced new, innovative products and services in the last two years, compared to 34% of companies that don’t leverage the cloud.

Overcoming Australia’s hiring challenges

Every day we speak to our customers and partners who see immense value in investing in training their workers. They include some of the country’s top organisations like National Australia Bank (NAB), Telstra, Kmart, and Curtin University. The feedback we hear shows there is a critical need to upskill and reskill workers so they can meet the demands of the evolving job market, with 66% of digitally skilled workers eager to upskill themselves further to reap positive benefits like higher wages, job satisfaction, and opportunities for promotion. Employers experience increased productivity, reduced turnover, and a more innovative team all around.

However, hiring digital workers will continue to be an uphill battle. More than seven in ten (71%) Australian employers say it is challenging to find people with the right digital skills they need. A factor compounding the problem is that 27% of Australian employers hold strict bachelor’s degree requirements for IT staff, even for entry-level roles. Greater recognition of technology certifications can ease hiring challenges. In fact, 72% of employers say that a digital certification or training courses are acceptable substitutes for a degree, showing that certifications are becoming recognised as valuable alternatives.

New program to help IT professionals pivot to cloud

At AWS, we believe the future of tech is inclusive, diverse, and accessible across every colour, gender, belief, origin, and community. We support learners with basic, intermediate, and advanced cloud skills through our tailored training programs, meeting our customers where they are at in their cloud journey, and helping them accelerate and achieve their goals. To help workers in Australia get advanced cloud skills and further their careers, we are excited to announce AWS re/Start Associate. AWS re/Start is our free, cohort-based training program that prepares people with little to no tech experience for entry-level cloud roles. The new Associate track will help unemployed and underemployed IT professionals gain the skills they need to pivot to mid-level cloud careers.

With game-based learning on the rise, we now offer AWS Cloud Quest and AWS Industry Quest to help learners build practical cloud skills in an engaging and interactive environment. AWS Cloud Quest teaches individuals important roles including cloud practitioner, serverless developer, solutions architect, machine learning specialist, security specialist, and data analyst. AWS Industry Quest was launched at AWS re:Invent in late 2022 for the financial services industry (FSI) and will be available for more industries soon. Through the game, FSI professionals and teams learn how to build solutions for fraud prevention, data lakes, grid computing for capital markets, and serverless deposit accounts.

Australian organisations prepare for future technologies

With many organisations now preparing for the hiring challenges of the future, the Gallup and AWS study looked at 10 emerging technologies including 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, edge and quantum computing, blockchain, and cryptocurrency. Sixty six per cent of Australian employers say at least one of these technologies is likely to become a standard part of their future business operations, and just over half (51%) of employers believe that multiple technologies will become a standard part of their future business operations, with 5G ranking the highest at 46%, and robotics close behind at 33%.

Building a future-ready workforce is key to overcoming hiring challenges and being able to rapidly adapt to future technologies. AWS is committed to working with our customers and partners, and collaborating with higher education institutions, nonprofits, workforce development organisations, governments, and industry to get workers skilled at scale. We have trained more than 300,000 people in Australia in cloud skills since 2017, but with 93% of digital workers who are interested in training saying they face at least one barrier to acquiring that training, clearly more needs to be done.

Given the expectation of ongoing economic headwinds, it’s important that governments, industries, and the education sector work together to create an agile and resilient workforce that can handle the rapidly evolving technological advancements. A specific focus on advanced digital skills will enable Australia to accelerate growth and create economy is more resilient, innovative, and inclusive than ever before. You can download a copy of “Australia Skills Study: The Economic Benefits of a Tech-Savvy Workforce” study here.