The economy is going to grow. I have a huge amount of confidence in our industries and our ability to achieve scale, sustainably and reliably.
But that scale is going to come from technology companies, not legacy industries.
Looking into the future, I see the tech sector as the most important vertical in Australia and globally, and I believe that it will revolutionise the future of work.
We’ve just seen the announcement that Holden is leaving Australia, and taking with it over 600 jobs. That’s an absolute tragedy, but it’s what we’ll continue to see if we only invest in sectors that don’t make economic sense, out of nostalgia. We’ve known and we’ve seen that manufacturing jobs have been leaving for some time, but we keep acting surprised instead of attempting to invest in sectors that will provide longer-term growth.
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The same thing has been happening with jobs in the mining sector. Where mines have been proposed and put forward with the idea of creating hundreds of jobs, the jobs are being automated away and removed, making the economic sense absolutely nil from an employment perspective.
Meanwhile, the tech industry has seen incredible growth.
In the past 15 years since I founded my first startup, we’ve seen tech companies like Atlassian and Canva pop up and grow to employ more people than anyone would have thought possible.
The value of that is huge, and it means that we are seeing more and more returns from our investments in the space.
Tech jobs are scalable
Tech workforces aren’t limited by natural resources, and the products we are able to build in Australia can be scaled all over the world. This means that the career-scale tech workers can achieve is absolutely limitless.
When you’re trying to create career pathways, not just one-off or short-term jobs, this is incredibly valuable and meaningful.
One job doesn’t just mean a year’s worth of paychecks, it can mean a steady and growing income that offers an ongoing benefit to the economy.
Automation is inevitable
The automation of so many jobs is going to happen. We are seeing it already in manufacturing and mining, and it will follow on to other areas as well.
When people talk about this being a disaster for workers, they’re not necessarily looking at the whole picture.
The truth is, automation simply removes the repetitive tasks from a system to make it more efficient, and that efficiency can lead to more roles in the tech that supports it.
When we are able to invest in jobs that are enabled by automation rather than made obsolete by it, we are making a longer-term investment.
Tech skills can be learnt
If we start to build out tech skills as a trade and integrate them into our school systems, there is no reason why we can’t be both creating the next generation of highly skilled tech workers, and helping workers in existing industries to transition into tech roles with the full support of the industry.
We know that tech workers are in demand, and that as companies grow in Australia, they’ll be competing more and more for the staff that can build the next billion-user platforms, and the way to supply those staff is to go to the people we already have.
Obviously, as a tech founder, I am a big believer in startups and the tech vertical as the path to the future of the economy.
But I’m not the only one.
Governments throughout the country are starting to look to it as well.
South Australia isn’t investing in space technology as a jobs source because they think it’s a fun idea, they’re doing it because they can see where the state needs to go and grow. New South Wales hasn’t built a thriving startup hub because they want to look modern, they’ve done it because it’s going to create careers for young people who are about to enter the workforce.
I think it’s time we started to focus on tech as an employment revolution, and make it a positive force for changing our economy.