Graduates left waiting for a Top End tech boom as jobs are outpaced by demand

Shujahat Khan is not where he thought he was when he completed his postgraduate studies in cybersecurity, a complex field of work that aims to prevent information warfare and data theft.

Despite living in what Khan calls “the age of technology,” the recent graduate works as a security guard by day and moonlight as an Uber driver by night.

He says that while society increasingly relies on digital information, employment options in the Northern Territory simply haven’t followed suit.

“I know some [people] who have jobs but still lots of students who graduated with me, they’re still looking, “he said.

“It’s a little frustrating.

Mr Khan wants to keep calling Darwin home, so he hopes it is only a matter of time before the capital of the Northern Territory develops its own burgeoning digital industry.

“In digital hubs, there are a lot of jobs related to cybersecurity and, I hope, I will [get] one of them, ”he said.

“Having a digital hub in Darwin will open the door not only to students, but also to people with technology experience. “

Experts say a digital speaker in Darwin would boost the economy, attract investment, encourage students and increase the population.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

The Government of the Northern Territory says it is following up on a recommendation made in its 2020 coronavirus economic stimulus plan to develop local positioning in the digital services industry.

“At the end of 2021, the government hired KPMG services to undertake initial high-level scoping work to inform the government about a potential digital speaker,” a government spokesperson said.

“This work should be completed in early 2022.”

However, Bharanidharan Shanmugam, a lecturer in computer programs at Charles Darwin University, said the number of local graduates continued to exceed the “very limited” number of local employment opportunities.

“But when we have a digital hub, the number of opportunities will increase and students will get places very easily,” said Dr Shanmugam.

What is a digital hub?

Dr Shanmugam described a digital hub as an “ecosystem” that supports innovative start-ups and is often a forum with super-fast internet, a strong workforce, and a place where resources can be shared.

He said digital hubs attract “global talent” and benefit the local economy.

A man looks at the camera in a computer lab.
Dr Bharanidharan Shanmugam said the Northern Territory would benefit from a digital hub. (ABC News: Che Chorley)

Silicon Valley – home to big companies like Apple and Google – has maintained its dominance as the capital of digital innovation and is where most people would think of as an example of a digital hub.

In fact, hubs are emerging all over the world and they are growing rapidly.

“In India, they started several [information technology] parks where the [government] provided the infrastructure, ”said Dr Shamnugam.

“Because of this, companies started investing in technology… and it definitely benefited the economy,” he said.

East London Tech City, also known as Silicon Roundabout, is now home to several large tech companies and has seen start-up growth, as has Tel Aviv, which has one of the largest numbers of emerging companies per capita. in the world.

In Australia, almost every state has a digital enclosure, including the Australian Technology Park in central Sydney, which is home to a community of high-tech researchers and companies.

Northern Territory Business and Digital Development Minister Paul Kirby said a hub could position the territory as “the digital gateway to Asia and beyond”.

“A digital enclosure will develop our local digital economy to better support all industrial sectors, including drones, cybersecurity, data management and knowledge,” he said.

The technological vacuum expels families

As it stands, however, the lack of a local technical district is pushing some families from Darwin to other cities.

Aarthee Rathnakumar and her family, reluctantly, left Darwin in 2021 after spending years looking for work in his industry and came nowhere.

“When I came from India, I had training in application development,” she said.

“I applied for dozens of jobs but couldn’t get what I really wanted.”

Ms Rathnakumar, along with her partner, chose Brisbane – where the city’s tech industry is maturing – and received three job offers before relocating.

A family of four poses for a photo with matching shirts.
Aarthee Rathnakumar and her family moved between states in search of better employment opportunities.(Provided)

“It was the technology I wanted to work with,” she said. “It really worked for us.”

But she said moving was a tough decision she didn’t want to make, and she could have stayed if Darwin’s tech industry had been more developed.

“Darwin is a nice place to raise a family, it’s very calm and relaxing,” she said.

“Yes, certainly, we would have reconsidered our decision. “

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