Highly skilled, tech-savvy talent that attracts global enterprise

Australian science and research contribute significantly to global innovation. In terms of research publications, Australian academics are global leaders in 20 critical fields, including space science, physics, computer science and clinical medicine.

We are pioneers in many areas of health and life sciences. Australian inventors have developed scores of technologies. These include innovations such as the electronic pacemaker in 1926 and the cervical cancer vaccine in 2006.

Australian universities are globally renowned and the quality of their education builds our world-leading talent. Today, seven Australian universities rank in the world’s top 100, and spending on education exceeds the OECD average. Australians now rank in the global top 10 for skills.

Our talent is not just home-grown. In 2019, Australia had the third highest proportion of foreign-born citizens among OECD countries. This is twice the average for OECD countries.

Today, Australia is a magnet for global talent. From medicine to IT, high-skilled professionals are drawn to world-class institutions across the country. They bring skills that help build Australian business, science and technology prowess in the Asia-Oceania region and around the world.

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.

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Sources: 1. Economist Intelligence Unit, 2018, Preparing for disruption: Technological Readiness Ranking. 2. Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, 2020, Academic Ranking of World Universities. 3. Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, 2019, Global Entrepreneurship Index 2019. 4. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 2020, CSIRO Annual Report 2019–20. 5. Department of Innovation, Industry and Science, 2020, Australian Innovation System Monitor. 6. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020, Education and Work, Australia, Table 13. 7. Austrade

An innovative, highly educated nation

International studies show that Australia’s workforce is competitive across multiple indicators. According to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2019, Australia’s scientific publication scores are among the world’s highest, and so are its metrics for critical thinking in teaching. Australia ranks the eighth highest in the world on the UN's Human Development Index, an important comparative measure of literacy and education. Australia also ranked in the top nine for availability of foreign highly skilled labour, according to a study by the International Institute for Management Development.

Skilled workforce and innovation indicators – Global rankings

  Australia US UK France Germany Japan Korea China India Singapore
WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2019
Ranking (141 economies)(a) in:
                   
School life expectancy years 1 30 6 39 17 49 25 76 88 27
Diversity of workforce 3 7 14 65 16 106 86 78 80 1
Reliance on professional management 6 10 26 32 25 12 54 51 41 3
Willingness to delegate authority 8 7 22 42 16 27 85 57 71 17
Ratio of wage and salaried female workers/male workers 10 39 12 23 27 62 59 56 128 31
Mobile broadband subscriptions1 10 7 34 42 58 2 21 36 116 6
Scientific publications scores 10 1 2 5 3 6 18 13 21 23
Critical thinking in teaching 11 9 14 36 10 87 82 25 55 21
United Nations Human Development Report 2019
Ranking (189 economies)(b) in:
                   
Human Development Index2 8 17 13 26 6 19 23 85 131 11
IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020
Ranking (63 economies)(c) in:
                   
Foreign tertiary students per 100 inhabitants 1 29 7 24 23 45 41 55 60 4
Availability of finance skills 6 10 14 23 22 53 28 31 25 7
Availability of foreign highly skilled personnel 9 2 18 28 20 54 43 32 46 5
Attracting and retaining talent 10 6 32 33 22 14 11 29 37 18
The Global Innovation Index 2020
Ranking (131 economies)(d) in:
                   
E-participants3 5 5 5 13 23 5 1 29 15 13
Entertainment & media market4 7 2 8 15 12 5 18 37 60 20
Government's online services 7 2 4 4 17 9 4 34 9 2
Human capital and research5 9 12 10 13 5 24 1 21 60 8
Citable documents H-index6 10 1 1 5 3 6 17 13 21 23
Generic top-level domains (TLDs)7, 8 10 1 11 18 14 31 43 74 99 23

Notes: 1. Per 100 people. 2. Index combines economic, social and educational indicators. 3. E-participation is assessed based on features of national e-government portals, especially the availability of online information on policies and budgets, or free access to online government services. 4. Per 1,000 people, aged 15-69. 5. Human capital and research includes education, tertiary education and research and development. 6. The H-Index is a numerical indicator of how productive and influential a researcher is. 7. Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of the Internet. 8. Per 1,000 people, aged 15-69.
Sources: (a) World Economic Forum, 2019, Global Competitiveness Report; (b) United Nations, 2020, Human Development Report; (c) International Institute for Management Development, 2020, IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020; (d) Cornell University, INSEAD, World Intellectual Property Organization, 2020, Global Innovation Index 2020; Austrade

Tech-savvy talent

According to industry reports, Australia’s population scores highly for digital skills. The annual Digital Readiness Index published by Cisco ranks Australia third in the Asia-Oceania region, and twelfth globally. Australia scored highly across all seven components of digital readiness: basic needs; human capital; ease of doing business; business and government investment; startup environment; technology infrastructure; and technology adoption.

Austrade-BM-cisco-global-digital-readiness-index-2019

Notes: 1. The number in brackets represents the country’s global ranking across 141 countries. The digital readiness of a country is determined by examining seven components. These are standardised and summed to obtain an overall digital readiness score measured out of a possible total of 25 points. The seven components are basic needs; human capital; ease of doing business; business and government investment; startup environment; technology infrastructure; and technology adoption. Sources: Cisco, 2019, Global Digital Readiness Index; Austrade

First-rate digital and mobile networks

Australia’s 5G network is superb by international standards. Average download speeds are currently far faster than in many major economies, including the US, Germany, the UK and Canada. Access to high-speed internet and mobile networks is central to economic growth and job creation. A study across OECD countries found that an increase in internet speed positively affected GDP per capita.

Austrade-BM-mobile-download-speeds-by-market

Note: Opensignal is the independent global standard for understanding the true state of the world’s mobile networks based on measurements of real user experience.
Sources: Opensignal, 2020, Benchmarking the global 5G user experience, October 2020; Kongaut, Chatchai & Bohlin, Erik, 2014. "Impact of broadband speed on economic outputs: An empirical study of OECD countries," 25th European Regional ITS Conference, Brussels 2014 101415, International Telecommunications Society (ITS); Austrade
Disclaimer: Figures were reproduced with permission of Opensignal from Benchmarking the global 5G user experience, published on 13 October© 2020 Opensignal Limited - All rights reserved. https://www.opensignal.com/2020/10/13/benchmarking-the-global-5g-userexperience- october-update

Significant investment in education

Australia ranks seventh for spending on educational institutions as a proportion of GDP, among OECD countries. At 6.0%, the country exceeds the OECD average of 4.9%. Comparatively, Australia scores even higher marks for tertiary education. Spending in higher education increased from 1.5% of GDP in 2005 to 2.0% in 2017, propelling Australia into fourth place among OECD countries.

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

Notes: 1. Expenditure on all public and private institutions. 2. Latest data available from OECD database: https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=EAG_FIN_RATIO. 3. Totals may not always add up exactly due to rounding.
Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2020, OECD.Stat; Austrade

A big spender on research and development

Australia’s annual gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) reached A$34 billion in 2018–19. This places Australia alongside the UK, Singapore and France as one of the highest spenders on research and development (R&D). Australia’s trend in R&D is upwards. GERD rose by around 7% per year from 2000–01 to 2018–19 and it now represents 1.8% of Australian GDP. This creates a pool of skilled researchers who are globally competitive.

Austrade-BM-world-of-research-and-development

Notes: GERD % of GDP and GDP Values (PPP) refer to 2018 except for Australia, New Zealand and Brazil (2017), and South Africa (2016). Researcher figures refer to 2018 except for Australia (2010), Brazil (2014), Mexico and South Africa (2016), US, Canada and New Zealand (2017). All data were sourced from OECD Dataset: Main Science and Technology Indicators except for Brazil, India and Indonesia from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2020, OECD Dataset: Main Science and Technology Indicators; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2020, UIS Statistics; Austrade

High-impact research across multiple fields

Australia’s 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 categories where Australia outscores the global average reflect our diverse research skills.

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

Sources: InCites™ Clarivate Analytics, 2020, InCities dataset, data as at 29 October 2020; Austrade

A pioneer in health sciences and practical medicine

Australia is one of the world’s top 10 countries for contributing to life sciences research. According to an index published by Nature, one of the world’s oldest science journals, Australian researchers and institutes published 1,168 academic articles in accredited journals in 2019–20. This puts Australia ahead of Switzerland and Israel, and just behind France, Canada and Japan.

Austrade-BM-health-research-by-country

Notes: 1. The number in brackets indicates the country’s ranking across 170 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, 2020, Life Science Index; Austrade

Top-ranking academic institutions

Seven Australian universities are in the world’s top 100, according to the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Australia’s academic performance keeps rising. In 2020, 23 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; Australian National University; University of New South Wales; University of Sydney; Monash University; and University of Western Australia.

Academic ranking of world universities, 2020

  Economies Top 100 Top 200 Top 300 Top 400 Top 500 Top 501 to 1,000 Top 1 to Top 1,000
1 US 41 65 94 114 133 73 206
2 UK 8 20 28 34 36 29 65
3 Australia 7 8 15 22 23 11 34
4 China 6 22 32 49 71 73 144
5 France 5 8 12 16 17 13 30
6 Switzerland 5 7 7 7 8 1 9
7 Germany 4 10 19 24 30 19 49
8 Canada 4 9 12 18 19 9 28
9 Netherlands 4 9 10 10 12 1 13
10 Japan 3 7 8 10 14 26 40
11 Sweden 3 5 6 9 11 3 14
12 Belgium 2 4 5 7 7 1 8
13 Denmark 2 3 3 5 5 1 6
14 Singapore 2 2 2 2 2 2 4
15 Israel 1 4 4 4 6 1 7
16 Norway 1 2 2 3 3 2 5
17 Russia 1 1 1 2 3 8 11
18 Finland 1 1 1 2 3 5 8
19 Italy 0 3 7 10 17 29 46
20 Hong Kong SAR 0 2 4 5 5 2 7
21 Saudi Arabia 0 2 3 3 4 0 4
22 Korea 0 1 6 9 11 21 32
23 Spain 0 1 5 9 13 27 40
24 Austria 0 1 3 5 7 7 14
25 Brazil 0 1 1 3 6 16 22
  Top 1 to 25 economies 100 198 290 382 466 380 846
  Top 26 to 63 economies 0 2 10 18 34 120 154
  Total 100 200 300 400 500 500 1,000

 

Sources: Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, 2020, The Academic Ranking of World Universities; 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, 15 Australian universities made it into the top 100 for having an impact on UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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

Note: 1. To put together the ranking, the Times Higher Education mapped how universities around the world are implementing the 17 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. More than 700 universities were ranked this year across the SDGs.
Sources: The Times Higher Education, 2020, Impact Rankings; Austrade

A warm welcome for talented migrants

Throughout its history, Australia has welcomed immigrants from across the globe. In 2019, Australia had the third highest proportion of foreign-born citizens among OECD countries. In 2019, 29% of our population was born overseas, twice the average for OECD countries. Migrants contribute directly to Australian trade with their intercultural understanding and vital language skills – especially in Asian languages.

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

Notes: 1. Data refers to 2000 or the closest available year, and to 2019 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, 2020, International Migration Outlook, Figure 1.12; Austrade