The talent gap in Australia’s high-growth startup ecosystem

StartupAus’s survey outlines the existing and emerging skills gaps in Australia’s tech sector

The not for profit organisation, StartupAus, recently released a report detailing the critical talent gaps in Australia’s high-growth tech sector. According to the findings, education and migration are integral when it comes to injecting talent into Australia’s startup ecosystem.

Talent is a crucial part of any business, and StartupAus’ vision is to “make Australia one of the best places in the world to build a tech startup.” The report recommends Australian startups invest in traditional roles and make an effort to attract experienced developers and product experts.

Sales and marketing were the two of the top three components cited as important for scaling-up, but these roles were hardly mentioned in the questions relating to the difficulty of hiring. Evidence suggests that the skills in these roles are transferable, so closing this skills gap could generate a significant amount of growth for businesses.

Speaking to StartupSmart, StartupAus chief Alex McCauley said “when we think about startups, we think about the tech side, and the product they’re building.” Startups therefore require strong sales and marketing teams “to get the product out there into as many hands as possible” and transform “little early-stage startups into large and growing companies.”

A recent study by IDC found that many Australian employees are failing to keep up with modern developments. 37% of respondents said they do not have the skill set to tackle digital transformation.

Migration is therefore crucial. Often, the challenge for startups is locating senior software engineers, but “those people are in short supply and hard to hire” McCauley asserts.

“Australia produces very high-quality graduates in the software development space,” McCauley added. Despite this, he insisted that attracting international talent is the only way to “turn Australian engineers into top class talent.”

Finding digital talent is also a problem in the UK. “Digital skills are essential for gaining access to a wide range of products and services, but sourcing digital talent in the UK is a significant challenge,” according to David Rai, CEO of Sparta Global.

“The effort to identify, understand and address the talent gap in the Australian high growth technology sector is only the beginning,” the report reads. Although the sector experiences constant change, addressing the talent gap has the potential to catalyse huge rewards.

StartupAus insists that further research is required in order to produce a comprehensive analysis of Australia’s missing skills. The report also recommends that employees with baseline skills are given minimal training in order to transition into more specialised tech roles.

“The more we are able to publicise the skills and experience that are in demand by Australian startups, the more organic efforts to address the talent gap can occur across the economy,” the report concluded. Promoting a better understanding of the nuances of new skills could allow Australia to incorporate these strengths into education, government policy and the private sector.

Why do businesses need a talent supply chain? Kurt Ballard, VP of Global Strategic Initiatives for SumTotal Systems, provides his expert opinion here