A growing gap in digital skills is a security risk and prohibitive to Melbourne becoming a Digital CBD according to a new report released by the RMIT Digital CBD Project.
With a projected 3.7 million digitally skilled workers required in Australia within the next five years according to the World Economic Forum, the report highlights that there is not only a lack of coordination across the industry to adequately address the digital skills issue, but it also poses a big risk to a future sustainable and secure Digital CBD.
“For Melbourne to become a Digital Central Business District, we need to enhance our collective understanding of the digital skills shortages among professionals – an important first step on the path toward global excellence, for the state of Victoria” RMIT’s Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation Director Professor Matt Warren said.
COVID-19 has further impacted the digital skills gap, with more than $33 billion lost due to cybercrime in Australia in 2020-21.
Warren believes we are more vulnerable than ever to cyber security attacks due to the rapid increase in digital transformation, combined with the outcome of the pandemic.
“The environments we study and work in now demand unprecedented agility and precaution from us,” he explained.
Since the pandemic, many organisations have invested heavily in technology to address immediate concerns, such as falling revenue and interrupted supply chains, as well as building longer-term competitiveness and resilience.
As part of the report study, RMIT researchers conducted the first known Melbourne-focused survey of information and communications technology and cyber security professionals, which provided key report insights into the state of the industry particularly in the Melbourne CBD.
The report’s author Dr Ahmad Salehi Shahraki said that cyber security was the top advanced digital skill identified as being most needed by professionals and that it was a growing digital skills gap.
“Although over 60% of respondents from our survey indicated there has been an increase in the number of cyber security staff, compared to three years ago, only a quarter of respondents believe they currently have enough cyber security professionals working in their organisation,” he said.
The survey also confirmed existing research of a gender imbalance, indicating that less than 15% of workers in the cyber security industry were women, making it the industry with the biggest gender gap.
“Women make up half of the workforce, so it makes sense that we would want to attract more women to upskill in digital skills, considering the huge digital skills gap” Warren added.
The report highlights the need to educate all ages in digital skills, capturing students at primary school level right through to upskilling existing professionals, as well as migrants entering the country. It also recommends a more collaborative approach to this growing and urgent need.
The report makes the following recommendations:
Establish a Victorian Digital Skills Academy;
Establish an Australian Cyber Security Accreditation Body and an Australian Cyber Security Body of Knowledge;
Create a comprehensive ICT and Cyber Security Diversity Action Plan for Victoria;
Increase skilled migration to aid Victoria’s recovery;
Invest in innovative school programs highlighting the skills required in a digital economy;
Create a program to increase the awareness of digital technologies and the need to upskill digital skills within the Melbourne CBD.
The Report ‘Digital Skills and Cyber Security: How do we secure our future’ is the fourth report in a five-part series commissioned by the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF) and can be