Highly skilled, tech-savvy talent that attracts global enterprise

Australia is home to a high-skill, high-talent workforce. This makes us one of the most innovative countries in the world. Our scientific institutions rank in the world’s top 1% in 15 individual fields of research – including space science, computer science, clinical medicine and genetics.

Our outsized A$167 billion technology sector has grown 26% since the onset of the pandemic. If it were a single sector, technology would now be the third largest contributor to Australian GDP. Approximately 98% of Australian tech firms are small and medium-sized enterprises.

Our tech-hungry culture also takes advantage of innovation. Investors and global tech developers know that Australian consumers are technology early adopters who are open to change. This makes us a great market to trial and pioneer new digital services.

The results are apparent in global rankings. Euromonitor ranks Australians fourth in the world for digital consumption. Australia is now ranked second in Asia for fintech development, and sixth globally. We score highly in science too. According to Nature, Australia is one of the top 10 countries in the world for contributing to life sciences research.

innovation & skills

Australia’s roll call of innovation

Australia is a nation of inventors and entrepreneurs. Our innovations include the electronic pacemaker (1926), the ‘black box’ flight recorder (1958), ultrasound (1961), multi-channel cochlear implants (1970s), the polymer banknote (1988), Wi-Fi (1990s), Google Maps (2003) and a cervical cancer vaccine (2006). With dynamic links between academia, industry and public services, Australia welcomes investment in its intellectual capital to help lay the groundwork for future discoveries.

australias-innovation-credentials

Sources: 1. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 2021, Robotics experts led by Australia’s national science agency. 2. Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, 2021, Academic Ranking of World Universities. 3. Nature Index, 2020 Artificial Intelligence. 4. CSIRO, 2021, CSIRO Annual Report 2020–21. 5. Department of Innovation, Industry and Science, 2021, Australian Innovation System Monitor. 6. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021, Education and Work, Australia. 7. Austrade

Australia’s thriving tech sector

Australia’s entrepreneurs have created one of the southern hemisphere’s biggest technology industries. If it were classified as a single industry, it would be the third largest contributor to GDP in Australia – ahead of the health and construction sectors. The tech sector’s economic contribution to GDP has increased 79% since 2016–17 to reach A$167 billion in 2020–21. This equates to around 8.5% of GDP. Rapid digital adoption during COVID-19 led to a 26% growth (A$34 billion) in the value of Australia’s technology sector in the year to June 2021.

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Notes: The direct tech sector is defined as internet publishing and broadcasting, telecommunications services, internet service providers, web search portals, data processing services, and computer system design and related services. Totals may not always add up to exactly due to rounding.

Sources: Tech Council of Australia, 2021, The Economic Contribution of Australia’s Tech Sector; Austrade

A competitive, highly skilled workforce

Australia’s skilled and educated workforce is highly competitive in global comparisons. Australia ranks in the top six for university education systems according to a 2021 study by the International Institute for Management Development. Australia ranks eighth in the world on the UN’s Human Development Index, which measures literacy and education. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Innovation Index, Australia’s scientific publication scores are among the world’s highest. We also score in the top 10 for scientific and technical articles, and in the citable documents H-index.

Skilled workforce and innovation indicators – Global rankings

  Australia US UK France Germany Japan Korea China India Singapore

The Global Innovation Index 2021 Ranking (132 economies)8 in:
                   
School life expectancy years 1 29 16 39 18 na 26 88 95 25
Tertiary enrolment, % population 3 11 48 38 33 na 4 57 88 10
Tertiary inbound mobility, % enrolment 4 47 8 28 21 49 71 101 108 7
Entertainment and media market¹ 6 1 8 17 12 5 16 37 59 20
Scientific and technical articles² 6 46 13 36 35 50 29 42 84 33
Government's online service 7 7 6 18 59 12 1 12 24 5
Citable documents H-index3 9 1 1 5 3 6 17 13 21 22
E-participation4 9 1 6 18 57 4 1 9 29 6
Number of registered internet domains5 9 1 10 18 14 31 43 74 97 23
IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021 Ranking (64 economies)9 in:                    
University education index6 6 1 2 8 5 12 20 3 17 37
Foreign labour force - migrant stock 8 21 na 28 18 52 48 63 60 4
Women on boards 11 16 10 2 23 42 49 37 32 29
The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2021 Ranking (134 economies)10 in:                    
Professional management 7 10 13 24 22 12 53 28 48 3
High-level skills, global knowledge 7 2 4 22 29 23 27 39 69 1
ICT infrastructure 8 27 3 21 26 35 19 41 73 5
Talent impact, global knowledge 12 6 9 19 24 39 18 15 47 11
United Nations Human Development Report 2020 Ranking (189 economies)11 in:                    
Human Development Index7 8 17 13 26 6 19 23 85 131 11

Notes: 1. Per 1,000 people, aged 15–69. 2. Number of scientific and technical journal articles per billion dollars of GDP, measured at purchasing power parity. 3. A numerical indicator of how productive and influential a researcher is. 4. The E-Participation Index is derived from the United Nations E-Government Survey, which focuses on government use of online services. 5. Generic top-level domains per 1,000 people, aged 15-69. 6. Country score calculated from Times Higher Education university ranking. 7. Index combines economic, social and educational indicators.

Sources: 8. World Intellectual Property Organization, 2021, Global Innovation Index 2021; 9. International Institute for Management Development, 2021, IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021; 10. INSEAD, 2021, The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2021; 11. United Nations, 2020, Human Development Report; Austrade

Top marks for higher education

Australia has one of the world’s most highly educated workforces. Approximately 47% of employed people hold a tertiary qualification or an advanced diploma. This ratio has increased rapidly: a decade ago, it was just 37%. Today, at least 70% of the workforce holds an advanced diploma or a higher qualification in a critical sector. These include professional, scientific and technical services; education and training; or financial and insurance services.

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Notes: 1. Tertiary education refers to Advanced Diploma/Diploma or higher.

Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021, Education and Work, accessed 23 December 2021; Austrade

Asia’s No. 2 hotspot for fintech development

Australia is a fintech powerhouse, with around 700 fintech companies. According to recent industry analysis, Australia’s fintech industry placed sixth in global rankings and second in the Asia-Pacific region. Our global performance reflects a vibrant fintech culture. Australian businesses, government agencies and citizens are all early adopters. We have a stable and trusted regulatory system that is open to innovation. We also have an outsized financial sector that manages a huge pool of assets. Put together, these factors make Australia a natural home for fintech investment.

 
global-fintech-ranking-by-economy-2021

Notes: 1. The number before the economy represents the 2021 ranking.

Sources: Findexable, 2021, Global Fintech Index; Austrade

Australia invests in education

Australia ranks seventh for spending on educational institutions, among OECD countries. At 5.9% of GDP, spending on education institutions in Australia exceeds the OECD average of 4.9%. Comparatively, Australia receives even higher marks for tertiary education. Spending on higher education increased from 1.5% of GDP in 2005 to 1.9% in 2018. This raised Australia to sixth place among OECD countries.

Austrade-BM-expenditure-on-educational-institutions-across-oecd-countries

Notes: 1. Expenditure on all public and private institutions. Values of expenditure are expressed in USD-equivalent, after converting local currencies using purchasing-power parity (PPP) conversion factors. 2. Latest data available from OECD database.

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2021, OECD.Stat; Austrade

High-impact research across multiple fields

Our scientific research has a growing reputation. Australian research publications achieve an impact that is at least 20% above the global average in 20 out of 22 fields of academic research. Australia’s four strongest categories of published research are in space science, physics, computer science and clinical medicine. The 20 academic categories where Australia outscores the global average show a wide diversity of disciplines and topics with a practical focus.

relative-impacts-of-australian-scientific-publications-by-research-field-2015-19

Sources: InCites™ Clarivate Analytics, 2021, InCities dataset, accessed 29 October 2021; Austrade

A pioneer in health sciences and practical medicine

Australia is a global top 10 contributor to life sciences research. According to an index published by Nature – one of the world’s oldest science journals – Australian researchers and institutes published 1,207 academic articles in accredited journals in 2020–21.

Austrade-BM-health-research-by-country

Notes: 1. The number in brackets indicates the country’s ranking across 162 countries. 2. This list of life sciences comprises the branches of science that involve the scientific study of life and organisms – such as microorganisms, plants, and animals including human beings.
Sources: Nature, 2021, Life Science Index; Austrade

Australia's top-ranking academic institutions

Seven Australian universities are in the world’s top 100, according to the 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. In 2021, 24 Australian universities were listed in the ARWU top 500 ranking, compared with just 14 in 2004. The top performers are: University of Melbourne; University of Queensland; University of New South Wales; University of Sydney; Australian National University; Monash University; and University of Western Australia.

Academic ranking of world universities, 2021

  Economies Top 100 Top 200 Top 300 Top 400 Top 500 Top 501 to 1,000 Top 1 to Top 1,000
1 US 40 62 89 110 129 71 200
2 UK 8 20 25 33 38 27 65
3 China 7 28 42 64 84 96 180
4 Australia 7 8 17 22 24 10 34
5 Switzerland 5 7 7 7 7 3 10
6 Germany 4 10 20 24 28 22 50
7 Canada 4 8 12 18 20 8 28
8 France 4 8 11 15 17 13 30
9 Netherlands 3 9 10 11 12 1 13
10 Japan 3 7 9 10 12 26 38
11 Sweden 3 5 7 8 11 2 13
12 Israel 3 4 4 4 6 1 7
13 Belgium 2 4 6 7 7 1 8
14 Denmark 2 3 3 5 5 1 6
15 Singapore 2 2 2 2 2 2 4
16 Norway 1 2 2 3 3 3 6
17 Finland 1 1 1 3 4 3 7
18 Russia 1 1 1 2 2 7 9
19 Italy 0 4 8 10 19 26 45
20 Saudi Arabia 0 2 3 3 4 2 6
21 Korea 0 1 6 8 11 19 30
22 Spain 0 1 4 8 12 27 39
23 Austria 0 1 3 4 7 6 13
24 Brazil 0 1 1 4 6 15 21
25 Ireland 0 1 1 3 4 2 6
  Top 1 to 25 economies 100 200 294 388 474 394 868
  Top 26 to 63 economies 0 0 6 12 26 106 132
  Total 100 200 300 400 500 500 1,000

 

Note: Economies were ranked according to the number of universities in the top 100. For evenly ranked economies, the number of universities in the top 200 and top 300 was used as a tiebreaker.

Sources: Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, 2021, The Academic Ranking of World Universities, accessed 23 December 2021; Austrade

A leading contributor to UN Sustainable Development Goals

Australian universities are good global citizens when it comes to tackling poverty, gender equality and climate change. This makes Australian universities attractive partners for collaborative research into sustainability, global development and technology. It also encourages overseas students to apply to Australian universities. According to the UK’s Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, 17 Australian universities made it into the top 100 for having an impact on UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Austrade-BM-the-world-university-rankings-2020

Notes: 1. To put together the ranking, the Times Higher Education mapped how universities around the world are implementing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a global call to action to tackle poverty, climate change and inequality. Universities were invited to submit data on how they were progressing on the SDGs. The 2021 Impact Rankings is the third edition and the overall ranking includes 1,115 universities from 94 countries/regions.
Sources: The Times Higher Education, 2021, Impact Rankings; Austrade

A magnet for ambitious, overseas talent

Australia attracts some of the world’s best talent. In 2020, Australia had the second highest proportion of foreign-born citizens among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Approximately 30% of our population was born overseas. This is twice the average for OECD countries. Migrants and diaspora communities contribute directly to Australian trade via knowledge of overseas markets and vital language skills. Citizens with links to Asia help Australian businesses expand trade across the Asia-Pacific region.

Austrade-BM-foreign-born-population-across-oecd-countries-2000-and-2019

Notes: 1. Data refers to 2000 or the closest available year, and to 2020 or the most recent available year. The OECD information is the simple average based on rates presented. For Japan and Korea, the data refers to the foreign population rather than the foreign-born population. 2. Israel’s high fertility rate and lower net migration rate reduced its percentage of foreign-born population.
Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2021, International Migration Outlook, Austrade