Challenging the tech skills shortage in Australia with global talent

Emilien Coquard
3 min readJul 29, 2022


The skills shortage in Australia is showing no real signs of easing, despite pandemic restrictions easing in the region. While the influx of talent from abroad is slowly rising again, CTOs and CIOs are still in a crippling battle for talent that’s preventing them from scaling at the speed they’d like. While many businesses are ‘innovation ready’ with a desire to go digital first, a lack of skills in particular areas mean they can’t bring products and services to market as fast as they need to.

To go digital first requires prioritising digital processes internally and digital offerings externally. To put software at the heart of strategy. But there simply isn’t the qualified talent available to achieve this and keep up with nimble, innovative competitors. What’s behind this talent shortage, and what are some of the solutions to the problem? Let’s look a little more closely.

A crippling battle for local talent

As APAC’s leading economic region and with arguably the most skilled local workforce alongside New Zealand — competition for top engineering talent is tough. Alongside tightened regulations surrounding skilled-migration visas have left businesses short of the skills they need.

The skills shortage in Australia is most acute for companies outside of what would commonly be referred to as the ‘tech giants’, who essentially have a monopoly on the ‘cream of the crop’, leaving everybody else in a fierce battle for the developers they need to put software central to strategic priorities.

Additionally, Australian businesses typically have a large percentage of their IT and engineering workforce employed as short-term contractors. With an exacerbated shortage of available talent, companies have begun to hire these contractors on a permanent basis — further driving costs higher than they were before Covid restrictions.

How can tech leaders address the skills shortage in Australia?

The talent shortages described not going anywhere soon. Even with pandemic restrictions lifted, the region’s educational institutions aren’t producing enough graduates with the skills needed. And, the number of engineers that are qualified is simply not high enough to dampen the shortfall — new methods of obtaining and retaining talent are needed. Hiring only locally is no longer an option, but that’s where leveraging global talent can provide a solution.

There are different ways to build these types of tech teams. So, what options are out there?

Onshore Australian tech teams

Onshoring is building a tech team in the same country as HQ — or the primary engineering location — but outside of expensive metro areas like Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne. However, skilled developers are even more scarce outside of these cities, making it an unlikely solution to tackle the skills shortage in Australia. It’s not really about leveraging global talent, but it’s one of those terms that sometimes gets misused and thrown in alongside outsourcing and offshoring.

Outsourcing to outside Australia

Outsourcing your development to another country is a suitable option for short-term, project-based engineering endeavours. For example, if a business wants to create a single-standing application that doesn’t require continual iterative updates or only seldom requires new features, then outsourcing remains a good option.

However, the developers don’t belong to the business, and they aren’t aligned with the company in terms of the wider organisation and its values and strategic vision. Essentially, outsourced teams are ideally placed to function as external support to help with one-off projects and to temporarily ease a bulging pipeline when a business needs more hands on deck to develop a piece of software quickly.

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