Sydney, Aug 15: Australian businesses have been bruised by the global skills shortage with demand for digital talent outstripping local companies’ ability to hire and train staff.
Ahead of the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit, CPA Australia’s new Business Technology Survey 2022 has revealed one in three Australian businesses consider the skills shortage to be a major barrier to their digital transformation.
“Businesses which fail to attract staff with digital skills are statistically more likely to be underperformers,” CPA Australia General Manager Media and Content Dr Jane Rennie said.
“Big businesses can put their financial muscle to work tackling the skills shortage by hiring contractors and offshore talent, outsourcing, and leveraging existing relationships with technology vendors.
“Small businesses are clearly struggling to keep up – one in five took no action to address the talent shortage.
“There is a global shortage of talent, particularly in the accounting and technology sectors.
“One way to offset this lack of skills is to enhance the knowledge and capability of existing employees.”
CPA Australia surveyed 820 accounting and finance professionals in different industries in Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Thirty-three per cent of respondents held a C-suite or other senior-level position.
On a global basis, Australian businesses are the least likely to have a digital strategy (70 per cent).
While 94 per cent of large local businesses have a digital transformation strategy, only 46 per cent of small businesses have taken this step.
“Australia’s small businesses are digital laggards among the Asia-Pacific.
“We need government support to improve small businesses’ technology training.”
Australian businesses that experienced growth over the last year used technology more often while those that did not grow failed to prioritise their workforce’s digital skills.
Successful businesses were more likely to hire staff with digital skills (40 per cent) and digital analytics knowledge (38 per cent), add tech expertise to their senior management ranks (37 per cent) or upskill their staff (42 per cent).
Businesses that did not grow in 2021 were less likely to invest in their workforce’s technology capability.
Only 14 per cent recruited new employees with digital skills while about a third trained up their existing workforce.
“The Federal Government needs to consider businesses’ ability to compete for workers with digital talent and upskill existing staff at the upcoming Skills and Jobs Summit,” Rennie said.
In the next 12 months, 43 per cent of Australian businesses are planning to increase investment or upgrade their technology while 28 per cent are preparing to increase technology training for employees.
“It’s heartening to see businesses plan to invest in technology but ensuring employees have the skills to use these tools needs to be a bigger priority,” she said.
“As organisations around the world grapple with complex global issues including the skills shortage, technology is crucial for business success. Organisations that prioritise technology and digital skills are best placed to deliver additional value and handle future challenges.”
Read the full Business Technology Survey 2022 report here.
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