Highly skilled, tech-savvy talent that attracts global enterprise

Australia is home to a workforce that is skilled, talented and highly motivated. Seven Australian universities are among the world’s top 100, and approximately 48% of employed people in Australia hold a tertiary qualification.

High levels of education and training make us one of the world’s most innovative countries. Our scientific institutions rank in the world’s top 1% in 15 individual fields of research. These top-ranked fields including space science, physics, computer science and clinical medicine.

The spirit of Australia attracts global talent. Investors appreciate our mix of hard work, friendliness and fair play. Our positive energy and optimistic spirit are magnets for global companies that want to re-locate employees into the region.

We are also a tech-powered economy. Classified as a single industry, Australia’s outsized A$167 billion technology sector is now the third largest contributor to GDP in Australia – ahead of health and construction. We are tech-hungry consumers who embrace innovation. This makes us early adopters who are open to change, and it also makes us a great market to trial and pioneer new digital services.

Our technical skills and technology proficiency are evident in global rankings. We rank fourth in the world for digital consumption. Fintech is an ultra-fast-growing sector: we rank second in Asia for fintech development. We score highly in science too. According to Nature, Australia is one of the top 10 countries in the world for contributions to life sciences research.

innovation & skills

Australia leads in niche technologies

Our entrepreneurs and academics work well together. This enables Australia to pioneer world-class technologies in agriculture, education, financial services and health. Australian success stories include the application of blockchain in finance; immersive simulation in education; robotics in medical procedures; and the Internet of Things in agriculture. Australia is also recognised as a world leader in silicon-based quantum computing research.


Sources: 1. Fintech Australia, 2023, What is fintech? 2. Findexable, 2021, Global fintech rankings report, accessed January 2023. 3. AusBiotech, 2022, Biotech sector snapshot 2022. 4. Fitch Solutions, 2022, Worldwide medical devices market factbook. 5. Fitch Solutions, 2023, Australia medical devices report Q1 2023. 6. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, 2023, Introducing the FREOPP world index of healthcare innovation. 7. EduGrowth, 2022, annual report 2022. 8. Tracxn, 2023, Agritech startups in Australia, accessed 11 January 2023. 9. Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, 2022, Delivering Ag2030.

Top marks for talent attraction

Amid intense competition, Australia stands out as one of the world’s most attractive destinations for talented individuals. According to the OECD’s talent attractiveness index, Australia is the most attractive country in the world for prospective talent. The index includes factors such as quality of opportunities, income and tax, future prospects, family environment, skills environment, inclusiveness and quality of life.


Note:  The number in brackets indicates the economy’s ranking across 35 economies.

Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2023, Data provided by the International Migration Division of the OECD; Austrade.

A #1 ranking for new technology skills

Australia is a nation of early adopters. In global rankings, Australia scores highest for the skills needed to use, adopt and adapt frontier technologies. These skills make us one of the most innovative countries in the world. Our track record is already impressive. Australia was the incubator for Google Maps, Wi-Fi, the black box flight recorder and the cochlear implant. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that Australia is now the most attractive place in the world for tech companies to invest. Government agencies are also early adopters. Oxford Insights ranks the Australian Government among the top eight in the world in terms of ability to benefit from artificial intelligence.

Note: 1. The number in brackets indicates the economy’s ranking across 158 economies. 2019 is the latest year available as at February 2023.

Sources: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2022, Frontier technology readiness index, accessed 23 November 2022; Economist Intelligence Unit, 2022, Preparing for disruption technological readiness ranking; Oxford Insights, 2022, AI readiness index 2021; Austrade.

Our fast-growing, A$167 billion tech sector

Australia has one of the biggest technology industries in the Southern Hemisphere. The tech sector’s economic contribution to GDP has increased 79% since 2016–17, reaching A$167 billion in 2020–21. This equates to around 8.5% of GDP. Rapid digital adoption during COVID-19 meant that Australia’s technology sector grew by 26% – or A$34 billion – in the year to June 2021. The Tech Council of Australia has set a target for technology to deliver A$250 billion per annum to Australia’s GDP by 2030. This would be the equivalent of 1.2 million jobs.


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

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2022, Education and Work, accessed 14 November 2022; Austrade.

Australia is a big investor in education

Australia ranks fourth for spending on educational institutions among members of the OECD. At 6.1% of GDP, spending on education institutions in Australia exceeds the OECD average of 4.9%. Spending on tertiary education increased from 1.5% of GDP in 2005 to 1.9% in 2019. This raised Australia to sixth place among OECD countries.


Notes: 1. Expenditure on all public and private institutions. Values of expenditure are expressed in US dollar-equivalent, after converting local currencies using purchasing-power parity (PPP) conversion factors. 2. Latest data available from OECD database do not include data from Costa Rica and Switzerland.

Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2022, OECD. Stat; Austrade.

High-impact research across multiple fields

Our scientific research is highly ranked internationally. Australian research publications achieve an impact that is at least 20% above the global average in 20 out of 22 fields of academic research across a wide variety of disciplines. Australia’s six strongest categories of published research are in computer science, space science, multidisciplinary research, physics, clinical medicine, and molecular biology and genetics. The 20 academic categories where Australia outscores the global average show a wide diversity of disciplines and topics.


Sources: InCites™, Clarivate Analytics, 2022, InCities dataset, accessed 22 November 2022; Austrade.

Australia's top-ranking academic institutions

Seven Australian institutions rank among the world’s top 100 universities.1 Our rankings are consistently improving. In 2004, just 14 Australian universities appeared in the top 500, while in 2022, 24 Australian universities made the grade.2 Australia’s top-performing universities are: the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Monash University, the Australian National University, and the University of Western Australia.

Academic ranking of world universities, 2022

  Economies Top 100 Top 200 Top 300 Top 400 Top 500 Top 501 to 1,000 Top 1 to Top 1,000
1 US 39 62 85 106 127 69 196
2 China 9 30 46 66 83 102 185
3 UK 8 21 25 33 38 25 63
4 Australia 7 8 18 22 24 9 33
5 Canada 5 8 12 17 19 7 26
6 Germany 4 9 19 25 31 16 47
7 France 4 8 12 16 16 12 28
8 Switzerland 4 7 7 7 7 2 9
9 Netherlands 3 9 10 11 12 1 13
10 Sweden 3 5 6 8 10 3 13
11 Israel 3 4 4 5 6 1 7
12 Japan 2 6 8 10 13 19 32
13 Belgium 2 3 5 7 7 2 9
14 Denmark 2 3 4 5 5 1 6
15 Singapore 2 2 2 2 2 1 3
16 Norway 1 2 2 3 3 4 7
17 Korea 1 1 7 8 11 19 30
18 Finland 1 1 1 2 5 2 7
19 Italy 0 4 8 11 17 29 46
20 Saudi Arabia 0 2 3 3 5 2 7
21 Spain 0 1 5 8 11 29 40
22 Austria 0 1 2 4 6 7 13
23 Ireland 0 1 1 3 3 4 7
24 Brazil 0 1 1 2 6 15 21
25 Russia 0 1 1 2 2 8 10
  Top 1 to 25 economies 100 200 294 386 469 389 858
  Top 26 to 63 economies 0 0 6 14 31 111 142
  Total 100 200 300 400 500 500 1,000


Notes: 1. According to the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. 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, top 300, top 400 and top 500 was used as a tiebreaker.

Sources: Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, 2022, The Academic Ranking of World Universities; accessed 10 October 2022; Austrade.

Our universities aid sustainable development

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 and global development. 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. Australia now has the second largest number of universities in this top 100 category, surpassed only by the United Kingdom (with 20).


Note: 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 2022 Impact Rankings is the third edition and the overall ranking includes 1,406 universities from 106 economies.
Sources: The Times Higher Education, 2022, Impact rankings; Austrade

A magnet for ambitious talent

Australia has the third highest proportion of foreign-born citizens among countries in the OECD. Approximately 29% 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 also help Australian businesses expand trade across the Asia-Pacific region.


Notes: 1. Data refers to 2000 or the closest available year, and to 2021 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, 2022, International Migration Outlook; Boston Consulting Group, 2022, Decoding global talent, onsite and virtual; Austrade.

No worries, we’re happy!

Australia was the second happiest country in the Asia region2 in 2021, according to a World Happiness Index published in 2022. High incomes help. Other factors include a sense of personal freedom, a spirit of generosity, trust in institutions and income equality. Australia’s lifestyle – plus our positive and optimistic spirit – are major factors for global companies that want to re-locate employees and families into the Asia-Pacific region. In global terms, Australia holds a similar ranking to Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland, and is ahead of Singapore, Korea and Japan.


Notes: 1. The GDP per capita, adjusted to constant 2017 international dollars in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), is measured on a natural logarithm scale. 2. The Asia region is defined as economies located in Asia and Oceania, and excludes the Middle East region.

Sources: John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey Sachs, and Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, eds. 2022, World happiness report 2022, accessed November 2022; Austrade.