AI skills could boost Australia workers’ salaries by more than 29% and accelerate career growth

AI skills could boost Australia workers’ salaries by more than 29% and accelerate career growth

Amazon Web Services (AWS) have today released new research showing that when artificial intelligence (AI) is fully harnessed, Australian workers with AI skills and expertise could see salary hikes of over 29%, with workers in IT (37%), and business operations (35%) enjoying the highest pay bumps.

To better understand emerging AI usage trends and skilling needs in Australian workplaces, AWS commissioned Access Partnership to conduct a regional study, titled “Accelerating AI Skills: Preparing the Workforce of Australia for Jobs of the Future”. Almost 15,000 workers and 5,000 employers were surveyed across nine countries, including 1,500 workers and 500 organisations in Australia.

On top of significant salary bumps, 88% of workers in Australia expect their AI skills to have a positive impact on their careers, including increased job efficiency, greater job satisfaction, and improved job security. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed workers indicated an interest in developing AI skills to accelerate their careers, and this interest transcends generations. Whereas 83% of Millennials, 78% of Gen Z, and 72% of Gen X workers want to acquire AI skills – 55% of Baby Boomers, a demographic usually contemplating retirement, say they would enrol in an AI upskilling course if it were offered.

The research also found that the productivity payoff from an AI-skilled workforce could be immense for Australia. Surveyed employers expect their organisation’s productivity to increase by 46% as AI technology automates repetitive tasks (64%), improves workflow and outcomes (60%), and enhances communication (56%). Workers believe AI could raise their efficiency by as much as 45%.

Australia organisations go all in on AI

The speed of AI transformation happening in Australia is remarkable – 90% of employers envision their companies becoming AI-driven organisations by 2028. While most employers (87%) believe their IT department will be the biggest beneficiary, they also foresee sales and marketing (83%), business operations (82%), research and development (82%), finance (80%), human resources (73%), and legal (73%) departments driving significant value from AI too.

“The AI wave is sweeping across Australia, transforming the way businesses operate and the way we work. Our research shows that society as a whole will benefit from an increased productivity boost, which will translate into higher salaries for skilled workers across the country,” said Fraser Thompson, Head of Economic Strategy at Access Partnership. “With a growing number of organisations expected to deepen their use of AI solutions and tools, and the continual evolution of AI-driven innovations, there is a need for employers and governments to nurture a proficient workforce capable of steering current and future AI advancements.”

Generative AI—a type of AI that can create new content and ideas quickly, including conversations, stories, images, videos, music, and more—has captured the attention of the general public in the past year. This technology is already transforming workplaces in Australia where 88% of surveyed employers and 84% of workers expect to use generative AI tools on the job within the next five years, with 60% of employers highlighting ‘increasing innovation and creativity’ as the top benefit, followed by automating repetitive tasks (58%), and supporting learning (54%).

“Generative AI offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform businesses across Australia, and this research shows that AI skills are imperative for the future workforce. From financial services to construction and retail, industries are embracing AI at a rapid pace, which is why an AI-skilled workforce is essential to unleashing a culture of innovation and driving productivity in Australia,” said Louise Stigwood, Director of Enterprise in Australia and New Zealand for AWS. “At AWS, we are helping commercial and public sector organisations, from Thoughtworks to National Australia Bank, and tertiary education providers including the University of Technology, to upskill their employees because they know generative AI is the future.”

Bridging Australia’s AI skills gap is mission-critical

The research reveals a looming AI skills gap which must be bridged to ensure Australia is well-positioned to unlock the full productivity benefits of AI. Hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for nearly two out of three (63%) employers in Australia, of which 75% can’t find the AI talent they need. The research also uncovers a training awareness gap, whereby 73% of employers indicated that they don’t know how to run an AI workforce training program. Meanwhile, 76% of workers lack knowledge about available AI training programs.

The research highlights the need for greater collaboration between governments, industries, and educators to help employers across Australia implement AI training programs and guide workers in matching their AI skillsets to the right roles to harness their newly acquired AI capabilities.

“This research highlights the importance of investing in skilling our workforce to be future-ready. Governments, industry, and the education sector need to work together to ensure the region is prepared to seize the economic opportunities of the future,” said Bran Black, Chief Executive of Business Council of Australia. “Skill shortages are acute across Australia with companies struggling to find the skillsets they need, and this acts as a drag on productivity and impacts our standard of living. If companies and workers can get the skills they need, we can help get productivity back on track and continue to lift our standard of living.”

“Business and citizen services were transformed in the age of digital transformation through always-on apps and online services to manage everything from banking to car registration. Artificial Intelligence now marks a new chapter in Australia’s technology transformation through its ability to customise, optimise and personalise customer experiences. For our nation to keep pace with this speed of innovation, we need a robust and highly skilled workforce, making it as easy as possible for people to upskill and learn how to work with AI and machine learning to help business work better, faster, and smarter,” said ServiceGen Co-Founder, Victor Dominello. “It’s important for Australia to consider digital skills development as a national economic priority. Ensuring employees can access resources to constantly upskill will support the creation of more pathways for people into the technology industry.”

Accelerating digital skills training across Australia

AWS has trained more than 400,000 people in Australia on cloud skills since 2017. But with the rapid adoption of cloud-enabled technologies like AI, more needs to be done to upskill the workforce at scale so organisations can innovate and grow in an AI-dominated future.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is one educational institution working with AWS to empower students with digital skills. “It is essential that workers embrace technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to boost employability and earning potential,” said Professor Michael Blumenstein, Deputy Dean in the UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT. “Universities play a critical role in fostering that innovative spirit, and we welcome the continued support of AWS in helping our students gain practical, hands-on learning experiences.”

Since the launch of the AWS Asia Pacific (Sydney) Region in 2012, AWS has invested more than $9.1 billion in Australia, and estimates this investment added $19.2 billion to Australia’s total gross domestic product (GDP). AWS is investing a further $13.2 billion in its existing cloud infrastructure in Sydney and Melbourne from 2023 to 2027 to meet growing customer demand for cloud services in Australia, with this investment estimated to contribute $35 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2027.  

In November 2023, Amazon launched the ‘AI Ready’ initiative that complements AWS’s commitment to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million individuals globally by 2025.  Through ‘AI Ready,’ Amazon now offers a suite of free AI and generative AI training courses, aligned to both technical and non-technical roles, so that anyone can build AI skills. This is in addition to the more than 100 courses and learning resources on AI, machine learning, and generative AI available through AWS Skills Builder and AWS Educate—the digital learning centres for beginners to advanced learners. AWS also announced new generative AI innovations at AWS re:Invent 2023, including Amazon Q—a new generative AI assistant designed for work that can be tailored to businesses.