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Is Melbourne the tech hub of Australia?

If you’ve been dreaming about a move to Silicon Valley to pursue your tech career, it’s time to think again. While many Australians have found success in the global heart of IT, factors such as the prohibitively high cost of living and the tightening of immigration laws have helped to shift focus to other cities around the world. The good news is there are a number of places that provide an increasingly competitive home base for a thriving tech career.

We know Melbourne has been rated as the most liveable city for the past seven years running – but which city in Australia is the best place to grow a tech career?

According to a report by UK real estate company Savills, Melbourne is not only liveable but also incredibly tech-career friendly. Melbourne is currently ranked as the best tech city in Australia and the 14th best tech city in the world with the criteria for assessment including business conditions, tech environment, quality of life and cost of accommodation. So what stands out about Melbourne as a tech hub?

Professor Robin Doss, Deputy Head of the School of Information Technology at Deakin, has travelled extensively with his career and considers Melbourne to be a place of fast growth. ‘In my view, the tech scene in Melbourne is quite vibrant. There is a nice combination of established players and global tech giants as well as a startup scene that is gaining momentum,’ he says.

The Melbourne technology edge

With the knowledge that like attracts like, both the State and Federal governments have developed initiatives to grow the startup ecosystem – and their plans appear to be working. Prof. Doss says: ‘There is real effort being made to attract companies to set up base in Melbourne and many are doing so. Importantly, the tech sector is growing in terms of both mix of companies as well as size.’

According to Prof. Doss, if you’re interested in working for world-renowned companies, the landscape of potential employers continues to increase. ‘Several global tech companies have significant presence in Melbourne: IBM, now Google, others such as DXC, SAP, Indian giants such as TCS, Infosys, just to name a few.’

Working the tech industry scene

Prof. Doss says another strength of Melbourne is the supportive sense of community for those starting out. ‘One of the great things about tech in Melbourne is the strong “meetup” culture. There are several meetup groups that provide opportunities for students to learn about the industry and network and learn about the latest across a range of tech sectors from data science and AI to IoT and Blockchain.’

While there may be a temptation to hold off on networking until you have graduated, Prof. Doss says it is never too early to put yourself out there. ‘One thing that tech companies are always on the lookout for is talent. To take advantage of the opportunities, graduates need to give thought to how they can showcase their skills to a potential employer.’

'There are several meetup groups that provide opportunities for students to learn about the industry and network and learn about the latest across a range of tech sectors from data science and AI to IoT and Blockchain.'

Professor Robin Doss,
School of Information Technology, Deakin University

And it’s not just the startups and tech giants providing career opportunities. ‘One of the things that we are observing in our graduates is that increasing numbers of them are finding employment as IT professionals outside of IT companies. Banking and finance, health and energy are some industry sectors where there is growing demand for graduates.’

Is Melbourne the Silicon Valley of Australia?

Despite the rapid growth of the Melbourne scene it seems that Australia is yet to have a true equivalent to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. ‘Whether Melbourne can claim the title of Silicon Valley of Australia remains to be seen,’ Prof. Doss says. ‘Melbourne does tick a lot of the boxes: the start-up culture, talent pool with graduates from the Melbourne-based universities in good supply.’

But it’s still early days: ‘Perhaps an element where there is scope for growth is in the venture capital space that Silicon Valley has such a strong culture of.’

Should you stay or should you go?

While it’s no longer necessary for Australian graduates to move overseas to excel in their careers, Prof. Doss says international experience is always a positive addition to a CV. ‘Melbourne is a great city for both a tech career and to live in. But the one thing that we know is that the IT industry is dynamic and global, so it’s important that graduates are also open to pursuing opportunities globally.’

And the best thing about the shifting global tech scene? The choice it affords individuals to find a city that works for them on multiple levels. Prof. Doss says: ‘The most important thing is to make your decision based on what you are passionate about and where you think you will be able to achieve a good work-life balance.’

Excited by the possibility of a career in information technology? Start by checking out the range of IT courses available at Deakin.

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Professor Robin Doss
Professor Robin Doss

Deputy Head of School, School of Information Technology, Deakin University.

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