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Business and tech qualifications perfect for jobs of the future
Source: Catherine Armitage

Justin Tang, chief technology officer of Disrupt Sports, represents a new breed of surfboard salesman with ICT skills in high demand across a wide range of industries.    Photo: Janie Barrett

Time was, all you needed to sell surfboards successfully was a shopfront near the beach, a good blond mullet and some wave-riding cred. But Justin Tang is of a new breed. The chief technology officer of Disrupt Sports, which sells custom surfboards, skateboards, snow boards and yoga mats, has a masters in software engineering. He can't ride a wave but he can make a back-end order system sing.

People like him are busting out of the information and communications technology industry to perform vital roles across a full range of businesses, from retail and finance to agriculture, construction and mining, according to a new report by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australian Computer Society.

A "digital boom" has created 40,000 ICT jobs in Australia in the last two years alone, but there's even greater growth ahead for the "broader" ICT workforce as tech skills spread to a wider range of jobs, the Australia's Digital Pulse report says. Tech-intensive jobs outside the ICT industry are expected to grow at a rate of 2 per cent a year up to 2022, more than a third faster that the rate of general jobs growth. That's another 236,700 jobs on top of an additional 81,000 ICT roles forecast for the next six years.

"The stars and the moon are aligned" for ICT to become one of the key drivers of the economy, says Anthony Wong, president of the Australian Computer Society.

"There is just huge demand for tech talent and its across industries," says Nick O'Donnell, LinkedIn director of public policy and government affairs, Australia and the Pacific. Analysis of 2016 LinkedIn data for the report found that the top skills employers hiring new ICT workers demanded included broader business skills like project management, customer service and strategic planning, as well as technical skills such as web programming and cloud computing.

"You can't just graduate with a computer science degree (any more), you're going to need to see a balance of broader business skills," Mr O'Donnell says. The combination of ICT and business skills has become an ideal set of qualifications for future jobs.   

"We are looking at a pervasive application of tech across lots of new areas we have never canvassed before," says Mr Wong.

"Those skills are going to be deployed across a wide range of industries from manufacturing to health care, to use of robots and drones in industrial applications, to using smart devices in smart homes," he says.

Mr Tang of Disrupt Sports aims to fully automate the back office system, so that any "tedious" work such as logging orders is done by software, leaving managers and other staff free for more "rewarding" tasks such as hiring and finding new customers.

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