Five roles key to the growth of Australia’s start-up ecosystem

Five key roles have been identified as growth multipliers for Australia’s start-up ecosystem, according to the Startup Talent Gap report released this week by StartupAUS, Australia’s peak national advocacy group for start-ups.

StartupAUS’ report highlighted key findings which reveal where the talent shortage sits, with the following roles identified as immediate critical skills gaps:

  • Coders – including full stack developers, front-end, back-end, and mobile
  • Start-up sales roles – account managers and business development managers
  • User experience (UX) designers
  • Product managers
  • Data scientists.

The report combined surveys of and in-depth interviews with 23 successful scale-up founders with a custom LinkedIn data set looking at roles and hiring among young Australian tech firms. Results were then measured against hiring patterns from international peers including New Zealand, Canada and Finland, alongside data from countries with top-tier technology ecosystems, including the US, Germany and Israel.

StartupAUS COO Alex Gruszka said, “We found that some roles were in universal demand across the globe, while some niche technology roles were in high demand in more advanced ecosystems, but not yet in Australia. This gives us an excellent insight into not only what are the key skills gaps in the Australian technology sector today, but also what skills will be in high demand in the near future.”

“Education is our medium-term solution. It’s critical to identify these skills gaps and pinpoint the most immediately in-demand jobs in the technology space, so we can generate a local talent pool that is equipped with the skills and expertise that will be valuable to our fastest growing businesses. We also need to consider how we can make Australia as attractive and open as possible in the short-term to entice this coveted talent to our shores, considering the race to sign them is globally competitive,” Gruszka noted.

Professor Margaret Maile Petty, UTS Executive Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said, “How successfully we overcome the talent gap will depend on how quickly we can adapt our education system. At UTS we know we can’t do this without close collaboration with industry and the start-up ecosystem. We are committed to forging new and innovative partnerships that will allow us to bridge the talent gap – together.”

Despite the focus on newer, start-up specific skills, there is still strong recognition of the value of traditional business roles. Sales and marketing are two of the top three components cited as important for reaching the scale-up phase. While these roles are not specified as difficult to hire, start-up sales and marketing roles are distinct from their counterparts, with the key skills gap centering on technical ability. The data suggests that closing this skills gap could offer significant growth potential for businesses looking to hire in these important roles.

“This report brings much needed balance to the discussion around the future of work. Whilst we acknowledge there is much to be done to help workers in disrupted industries transition into new roles, it is also incredibly important that we shine a light on where those jobs of the future are, and the pathways to getting these exciting and rewarding roles,” said Steven Worrall, Microsoft Managing Director.

Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Photos and Communications at Google added, “Demand for software engineering expertise has created a highly competitive global market for talent. Google sees the potential to build on our strong local presence and emerging Australian engineering talent to develop teams here in Australia – but to do that we have to be able to draw on global digital skills.”

As Australia’s high-growth tech ecosystem matures and more start-ups continue to scale, it is likely that their demand will begin to mirror the experience of the scale-up founders studied for this research. If so, Australia is expected to see a shift in its talent gap, moving more in line with international peers.

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