Australian tech sector growth outpacing US, UK: report

Summary:The growth in jobs for the Australian tech sector, and a higher percentage of jobs related to app development, have Australia ahead of its US and UK cousins.

According to a new report, growth in the local tech sector has outpaced that in the US and the UK over the past six years.

The number of Australian jobs in computer systems design, which includes programming and software development, has grown by 38 percent since 2008, when the dawn of the smartphone era revved up the industry.

By contrast, jobs grew by 22.2 percent in the US and 10.1 percent in the UK over the same period.

"That's pretty darn good," said author Dr Michael Mandel from US think tank the Progressive Policy Institute. "It was a big surprise."

Mandel presented the Jobs in the Australian App Economy report in Sydney on Thursday.

He said some of Australia's impressive growth could simply be the country catching up.

Yet with computer sector jobs making up 1.6 percent of overall employment compared with 1.2 percent in the US, "it looks pretty real".

"It says that the Australian tech sector is not stagnant," Mandel said. "It's been able to absorb new technologies at a rapid pace."

Australia is also performing well in what Dr Mandel calls "the app economy", which is comprised of app developers as well as non-IT jobs related to app development, including marketing and human resources.

About 9.4 percent of all Australians tech jobs — or some 140,000 — are app-related, compared with 8.4 percent in the US and 7.6 percent in the UK.

That's important because the health of app development is a good indicator of how well other sectors, such as finance, entertainment and retail, are embracing the digital world.

"The digital economy is going to be one of the major sources of growth going forward," Mandel said. "Australia's at a good starting place."

"I think what we're seeing now is that you can have a tech hub that isn't Silicon Valley."

Apple claimed in a statement that its App Store has added more than 70,000 jobs to the Australian economy.

The company's iPhones and iPads, along with Google's Android mobile operating system, are credited with kick-starting the app-development industry now worth tens of billions of dollars.

Topics: Mobility, Apps

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