Andrew Brown for NEWS 360
Andrew Brown for NEWS 360

Tech skilled workers on cloud nine

AS Australia and the world turns to the cloud for data storage, jobs for cloud experts have soared - and not all require a university degree.

Skill shortages for the IT professionals - responsible for designing cloud software, managing data loads and maintaining cybersecurity - are so dire that cloud computing has been added as an event at next month's international WorldSkills "skill Olympics" in Russia in a bid to attract more people, with Victorian Andrew Brown set to represent Australia.

The number of job ads listed on Adzuna with the title "cloud engineer" jumped by 142 per cent between July 2018 and July 2019.

A March report from IBISWorld revealed overall employment in the data storage services sector increased by about 50 per cent in the past five years.

The workforce grew from 2015 Australians in 2013-14 to 3047 in 2018-19 and it was forecast to crack the 4000 mark within the next five years.

The report attributed the sector's strong performance to "growing internet traffic, the increasing prominence of cloud computing and the rising number of businesses outsourcing data storage".


Andrew Brown is competing in Cloud Computing World Skills Australia. Picture: Ian Currie
Andrew Brown is competing in Cloud Computing World Skills Australia. Picture: Ian Currie


More than two in five (42 per cent) Australian businesses were on the cloud in 2017-18, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, up from 32 per cent just two years earlier.

Uptake was most common in information, media and telecommunications (64 per cent of businesses), professional, scientific and technical services (58 per cent), financial and security services (56 per cent) and mining (53 per cent).

Amazon Web Services commercial director Adam Beavis said the biggest barrier to businesses adopting cloud technology was finding people with the right skills.

AWS runs programs to address the skill shortage across primary schools, secondary schools, TAFEs and universities.

It is also launching its re: Start initiative this year to offer pathways for under-served and disconnected groups to access entry-level cloud computing jobs.

"We are doing everything we can to contribute to closing the gap but as new technology comes on board more and more we need to make sure we are skilling up as many people as we can," Mr Beavis said.

Globally, LinkedIn named cloud computing as the number one most in-demand skill of 2019.

Insurance Australia Group chief digital officer Mark Drasutis said IAG's cloud engineers were from a range of educational backgrounds, including university and vocational training.

"The curiosity and diversity comes form multiple backgrounds," he said.

Effective Digital systems support engineer Andrew Brown - who holds a Certificate IV in Computer Systems Technology and an Advanced Diploma in Computer Systems Technology - hopes to bring home the gold medal for cloud computing at WorldSkills Kazan 2019 next month.

Mr Brown, 24 of Melbourne, joins 14 other vocationally-qualified young Australians competing in skills from carpentry and plumbing to cooking and fashion technology.

It is the first year cloud computing has been added to the competition.

"TAFE is a great alternative to uni," he said.

"If you're much more hands-on focused and need practical experience over theory it's perfect."