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What the future holds for the IT crowd

Imagine yourself as an Information Technology (IT) professional. What do you see? A lone programmer hidden in a back office surrounded by screens? Or a versatile business influencer?

Once upon a time, IT was the role of a single department within a business. Its role was reactive: fix problems and make sure strategy was supported by functional systems.

But today, as technology becomes more and more ubiquitous, working in IT can be so much more, and can lead to a lucrative career.

The changing role of IT in the workplace

The 2018 edition of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Digital Pulse says that 51% of Australia’s tech workers are employed in non-tech industries.

Sophie McKenzie, a lecturer in Deakin’s School of Information Technology, says that’s because IT is everywhere.

‘IT is life! All graduates, in both a personal and professional sense, will be engaging with IT on some level. In their professional life they will be engaging with IT either as an IT professional or as a part of another role,’ she says.

As technology continues to fundamentally change the way many businesses operate, IT opportunities are booming. In fact, the ACS Digital Pulse predicts that the Australian economy will need another 100,000 tech workers by 2023.

'IT is life! All graduates, in both a personal and professional sense, will be engaging with IT on some level.'

Sophie McKenzie,
Lecturer, School of Information Technology, Deakin University

Growth, growth, growth

You don’t need to look too far to see where the growth is coming from, according to McKenzie. Australia is on the precipice of the 5G network, artificial intelligence is everywhere, and voice search has gone from a novelty to the norm in the space of a few years.

‘Other opportunities are coming from automation across varying fields, application of block-chain technologies, design of the Internet of Things, advances in cyber-security, and better inclusion of human needs into the technology design pipeline,’ she says.

But is automation a risk for IT professionals? McKenzie doesn’t think so.

‘IT and computer science professionals will be the ones building the automation. Jobs in IT require complex problem solving, often in situations of incomplete information. The human ability to navigate this incomplete or uncertain information will ensure those in IT avoid being automated,’ she explains.

The jobs of the future

An IT qualification is incredibly flexible. It can set you up for a range of career paths – so much so that the diversity of choice could be your biggest challenge.

‘The career options are somewhat endless, which can be a detriment for students trying to articulate their qualification into something specific. It’s important for students to understand the IT labour market and their own aspirations so they can align opportunities with their career goals,’ McKenzie says.

She has seen Deakin students take on roles in e-commerce, retail, communications and business across both large and small organisations, and predicts that management skills will be most in-demand in the next decade. According to the ACS Digital Pulse, the most common ICT job advertisements in 2017 were for project managers, business analysts, business development managers and software engineers.

McKenzie recommends the Australian Government’s Job Outlook site to aspiring IT professionals wanting to browse their career options.

A valuable career power-up

Of course, IT skills aren’t just for those wanting to pursue an IT career – they can help you achieve your goals no matter what your area of interest.

‘Digital literacy skills are important across many disciplines. IT can be a part of your future in any way you see fit,’ McKenzie says.

‘An IT qualification gives you the technical skills to work with and manipulate technology applications, allowing your contribution to span from requirements building through to implementation.’

The skills you’ll need

Succeeding as an IT professional is about more than technical skills. The ACS Digital Pulse notes that the most in-demand ICT roles are the ones that ‘combine ICT requirements with broader business needs’. It lists the top three skills of ICT workers who moved jobs in 2017 as customer service, management and leadership.

‘Aspiring IT professionals need to have a mix of technical, interpersonal, communication and team work skills for success,’ McKenzie says.

‘Students who focus on building their technical skills without working on developing their other skills may struggle to find employment. Being approachable, personable, flexible and good at communication are key attributes desired of IT professionals.’

Ready to begin your career in IT? Deakin’s Bachelor of Information Technology can get you there.

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Sophie McKenzie
Sophie McKenzie

Lecturer, School of Information Technology, Deakin University

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