Welcome to our four-part series on workplaces of the future. This Information Age series will examine the positives and negatives of workplace trends in Australia, and how businesses and workers can adapt and thrive.
In Part 1, we look at how tech roles now exist in practically every business.
Is there any doubt that COVID-19 was the catalyst for changing work patterns?
In the blink of an eye, remote work became the norm as we were all locked in our homes, and bosses who wouldn’t ever allow an employee to work from home suddenly had no choice.
And guess what?
The world didn’t fall apart. We all kept working, we all kept producing.
The workplace of the future is here, and it sees workers primarily working from home, using communication tools to stay in touch with their colleagues.
It sees the growing popularity of the four-day work week and the prevalence of trends like ‘quiet quitting’.
The workplace of the future also has an increased focus on the mental health and wellbeing of employees – but is this tokenistic or useful?
And the workplace of the future is also dominated by entrepreneurs and small businesses – with the pandemic spurring a rapid growth in the number of new businesses being registered in Australia.
Every job is a tech job
According to data from jobs site Seek, the proportion of job advertisements on the platform that mention “technology” has increased from just over 10 per cent in 2016 to more than 13 per cent in 2022.
What was once a niche and specialised skill is now something that is at the least a preferred skill, and often a required one.
“Working with technology might once have conjured up the idea of binary code,” a Seek report found.
“But as tech has evolved, so too have technology jobs – and technology use has spilled into almost every sector. The need for technology skills are no longer confined to roles in the technology industry.
“Job ads that mention technology continue to climb, with roles across management, logistics, marketing and more all requiring a technology skillset.”
The demand for tech skills in traditionally non-tech roles can be addressed by the growth in useful low-code tools, Lookahead founder Steve Giles said.
“Low code tools are really helping,” Giles told Information Age.
“Every company is a software company now. To create software now you don’t really need to be a developer. There’s always room for developers, but we’ve had team members use apps to make our knowledge base.
“People can create pretty advanced databases, cool stuff and public-facing websites. Tools like that are bringing automation and stuff that was program-y in the past to non-tech users who really understand the business.”
Low or no code development tools allow workers to create tech products using simple drop-and-drag tools, rather than learning how to code to make mobile or web apps.
They allow an employee to complete tasks that would traditionally have been highly technical with little technical knowledge or skills.
According to the Seek data, jobs in the tech sector were the most in-demand according to job ad volume 10 years ago.
But now the industry has dropped to fifth, thanks in part to a shift away from tech-specific roles and towards a permeation of tech across roles and industries.
But this doesn’t mean that tech jobs aren’t still in demand in Australia.
According to the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) Australia’s Digital Pulse report, there will be 1 million tech workers by 2024, and 1.2 million tech workers by 2027, equating to a 5.5 per cent average annual growth rate.
According to the data, the proportion of the workforce in tech-related roles will rise from 6.7 per cent in 2022 to 8.5 per cent in 2025, and employment in tech roles will continue to outpace broader employment growth.
The report found that there were nearly 65,000 more workers in the tech workforce in 2021 than the year before, with a total of just over 870,000 workers.
This was a significantly higher growth rate than in professional industries.
There is still a strong want for tech workers in Australia, Giles said.
“It’s a quieter market – but good people are still being competed for,” he said.
“When people enter the market they’ve still got a few options.”
The significant job cuts we’ve seen in recent months at some of the biggest tech companies in the world have impacted Australia, with the likes of Microsoft, Meta and Atlassian all shedding significant parts of their workforces.
But the bulk of these roles were not in specific tech fields, Giles said.
“The problem wasn’t that they hired too many developers – they’ve grown the company up in other ways and they still want developers and people working with technology,” he said.
“The developers are the people creating the product, and what makes them the money. They’re more in demand than ever.”
More than 70,000 employees at companies including Google, Microsoft and Meta were sacked in the last year, with the companies winding back mass-hiring during the pandemic.
Australia’s Digital Pulse found that to meet the increasing demand for tech workers in Australia, there needs to be a better understanding and awareness of the job opportunities, an effort to fix the gaps in education and training products, improvements to the diversity of the tech workforce, targeted skilled migration, and improvements to industry-level supply and demand analysis.
According to recent LinkedIn data, some of the fastest growing tech jobs this year will be technical program manager, site reliability engineer, platform engineer, machine learning engineer and cybersecurity analyst.
Next issue: We look at our changing work patterns.