Bridging the start-up talent gap to accelerate Australian opportunity

startup talent gap


It’s easy to become mesmerised by the technology component of transformation – but on its own, technology is just one hand clapping.

The real value comes from the intersection of people and technology – both the people who use it and the people who design it.

Today we’re pleased to be part of a group of organisations that have invested in important analysis that we believe provides much needed clarity about the people and skills that Australia needs to remain at the forefront of global transformation initiatives. We know that almost all net new job creation comes from businesses less than five years old.

StartupAUS has worked with Microsoft, University of Technology Sydney, Google and LinkedIn on the nation’s first Startup Talent Gap Report. It delivers important insights about the skills that startups need today, a roadmap to the skills we will need tomorrow, and analysis about how Australia compares with other start-up nations.

Right now the analysis reveals that Australia has a critical need for coders, start-up focussed sales specialists and user experience designers. There are also emerging skills gaps for product managers and data scientists that, based on international experience, will become more important as Australian start-ups become scaleups.

Australia has a vibrant start-up community today – arguably more vibrant than ever before. In many areas the nation punches well above its weight and we’re proud to be a part of that with our Sydney based Microsoft ScaleUp accelerator program and our Reactor located in the Sydney StartUp Hub in York St.

The companies we work with in the ScaleUp program rely on smart technology and smart people. A lack of either slows them down.

A lack of technology and talent will also slow Australia and our ability to compete internationally.

Australia relies on education and migration for its supply of skills and talent – and in any resource constrained environment it’s important to align supply with demand.

It’s particularly important when it comes to technology talent which is in short supply and high demand worldwide.

StartupAUS’ report is an important piece of work that shines a light on what we need in terms of people skills, not just now but in the future. It can be used to guide educators, policy makers, and help steer investment in training by individuals and enterprise. Knowing the skills that the market needs today, and what it will need in the medium term, reduces the risk of people investing in skills development and training that is headed for obsolescence.

The analysis is based on surveys and in-depth interviews with 23 successful scale up founders, and also leveraged a specially designed LinkedIn dataset to make sense of what skills local tech companies are looking for. By comparing that with hiring patterns evident in countries similar to Australia, such as New Zealand, Canada and Finland, and also with the world’s leading technology nations including the US, Germany and Israel, it’s been possible to understand what we need now and what we will likely need as these businesses grow.

Interestingly the results reveal a strong correlation between what Australian scaleup founders told us about the skills they were looking for, and the skills that companies in leading technology nations were also seeking. We’re on the right track – but if Australia is to continue its stellar run of 26 years’ uninterrupted growth, we need to move fast.

Earlier this year Microsoft launched our National Skills Program in Australia designed to infuse the sorts of forward facing skills and capabilities that will set people up for successful careers and support organisations in all sectors with their transformation initiatives.

Whilst reskilling and retraining is critical we know that almost all net new job creation comes from businesses less than five years old, so Australia’s future prosperity is going to be dependent on the nation continuing to foster and support start-ups and scaleups, and ensuring these growing businesses can access workers with the right skill sets.

That’s why this sort of clarity about what skills are needed to grow Australia’s technology sector is so critically important.

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