Australia’s technology sector generated $167 billion dollars in 2021.1 Globally, that number is $8.51 trillion (2022), and is expected to increase by roughly a third within four years.2
The digital technologies industry is colossal and there are countless future career opportunities to be had by students, with roles in Australia, New Zealand, and across the world. In this article, we explore some of the most common digital skills and jobs available to aspiring career-starters, covering the full breadth of ICT.
Digital skills in demand in 2023
- Software engineering /programming
- User experience
- Digital product management
- Web design / development
- Graphic design
- Data analysis / science
- Robotics / automation
- Digital marketing
1. Software engineering / programming
The global economy is so dependent on computer software that if it were taken away, a spectacular collapse would follow and everything would have to be re-built from scratch. Software makes the modern world go around, and the millions of programmers who develop and maintain it have become an integral part of society. This makes software engineering a stable, potentially lucrative career path for young people.
Software engineers don’t necessarily require tertiary training, but as with other careers, it can certainly help with job applications. Common degrees for the field include software engineering, computer science, data science and information technology. If your child or student shows an interest in digital technologies from a young age (way before it’s time to start thinking about university degrees), you can foster their curiosity through extra-curricular activities like academic competitions.
2. User experience (UX)
Ever wanted to scream at your computer? You’re probably a victim of bad design, which can be fixed by a User Experience (UX) Designer. It’s their job to ensure that software and websites are usable and work in the way that you expect, so that you can easily complete whatever it is you’re trying to do. They achieve this by interviewing people, surveying them, and watching them as they complete tasks in the software. They also complete user flow diagrams, create wireframe designs and mock ups, and potentially code working prototypes to test with. Their skills are a blend of research and design techniques, which they use to create straightforward designs that (ideally) people enjoy using.
The more usable a website or piece of software, the more successful it’s likely to be. Most people are just too busy to trudge through a slow and cumbersome process and will quickly leave in favour of something better. That makes UX a crucial role that will be in demand for years.
3. Digital product management
For most people, a product is anything that can be purchased. But in the world of software, a product is a unique but distinct feature that is part of the company’s entire software suite. For Facebook, they might consider their Events feature to be a unique product. For eCommerce software, it could be the part of the system that allows their customers to ship products.
The person who decides which products or features should be built is known as a product manager (or product owner). They need to figure out which features will increase revenue and help the business to meet its goals, and they do so through extensive customer and industry research. When they decide on the feature, they then create a project structure that breaks it down into individual tasks, and guide designers and software developers to get it done (though they don’t code anything themselves). Their role might be considered an intersection of business, technology and user experience, which can be an enticing career for young people who are interested in technology but don’t want to code.
4. Web design / development
We use websites to buy our clothes, our groceries and our holidays; to run our businesses, find fun activities, to socialise, and everything in between. They are a crucial part of our modern lives, and while it’s become much easier and cheaper for businesses to create good-looking websites through services like Wix and Squarespace, many websites are still created from scratch by professional web design companies, particularly those that require advanced features. That makes web design a steady, promising career path for those interested.
5. Graphic design
Digital graphic designers are usually responsible for the incalculable graphical elements and designs you see daily, which include adverts, websites, magazines, company branding and more. Adobe’s suite of programs (Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign etc.) tend to be their home, which they use to create original designs using appealing shapes, colours and fonts to satisfy the needs of their client.
Graphic design tends to be a career in which freelancing is popular, which may make it attractive for those who are interested in running their own business.
6. Data analysis / science
Data is the prized resource that powers the technology industry. But without interpretation, data is just numbers in a system. To be useful, it requires someone to extract and present it in valuable ways. That person is a data analyst / scientist.
7. Robotics / automation
When you think of robotics, you may conjure up images of human-like machines that help us with our daily chores, like Robin Williams’ Bicentennial Man. Or you may think of a relentless crimson-eyed Arnie. But in the 21st century economy, robots tend to be agile, pre-programmed and non-intelligent machines that are shaped for their particular tasks, like spray painting car chassis, fetching packages from a specific bay in a warehouse, or cleaning and mopping your floor.
For a graduated student embarking on a career in robotics, they can design, test and assemble them as robotics engineers, with these potentially being split apart into individual roles; they can work on the software side of things, programming the robots to do their stuff; they can create the circuit boards and other system-based parts of the machines as a hardware engineer; or as an ever-advancing industry, they may find themselves in an exciting new role not yet conceived. This area is the most futuristic in our list, which may be appealing for those who want to work on cutting-edge technology.
8. Digital marketing
Every product or service needs to be marketed, and today, there’s a large variety of ways to do so. An aspiring young marketer can aim to become a broad digital marketing expert, or choose to specialise in one particular area. These are a few of the skills and job roles that are part of digital marketing:
- SEO – this supposed dark art is all about optimising your website, business listing and other online entities so that people can find them more easily through search engines.
- Email marketing – this focuses on promoting your products, services and content through email, which remains a highly effective channel.
- Social media marketing – building a social presence by understanding how each channel works and posting content that captures people’s attention.
- Content marketing – creating content such as blogs, eBooks and infographics to draw people into a brand’s presence by helping and delighting them, before convincing them to become customers.
- Copywriting – writing anything and everything for websites, digital adverts and other marketing channels, with a good understanding of SEO principles to ensure the content is Google-friendly.
- Video production – this is a career in its own right, but commonly falls under marketing because of the popularity of video.
Digital skills for the 21st century – summary
With the world firmly rooted in the Information Age and computers an essential part of it, children can build a wide variety of digital skills and find themselves in exciting, fulfilling careers as programmers, data analysts, marketers, or another vocation that takes their fancy. We hope this article has given you some idea of the possibilities.
- 2021, The economic contribution of Australia’s tech sector, Tech Council
- 2023, The Global Tech Market Is Bigger Than You Think, MGI Research