Homegrown talent an emerging economic force

Homegrown talent an emerging economic force

Australia isn't the internationally dominated ICT player many believe it to be with most of the growth in the past five years coming from homegrown companies.

An estimated 63 percent of people employed in Australia's ICT sector work for Australian-owned companies, according to Whitehorse Strategic Group managing director Ian Dennis.

Telstra, he said, is an example of a local company that employs plenty of homegrown talent.

A Productivity Commission report released this month found Australia's annual investment in IT has soared from $2 billion a year a decade ago to $17 billion in 2002/03.

"It is a myth that we are an internationally owned market. It seems that way because the multinationals are big and noisy with plenty of press capability," Dennis said.

"Also the perception in NSW is very different to elsewhere, because American executives step straight off the plane in Sydney and set up distribution companies in that capital city and all the larger consulting services companies are based in Sydney," he said.

"If you go to the rest of Australia, particularly Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, there is a very strong homegrown presence."

Dennis also pointed out that many of the Australian owned companies in the IT industry are SMEs and it is easy to forget that SMEs employ 90 percent of the Australian workforce.

While local companies have made a significant contribution to growth, Dennis said Australia had a far more dynamic IT services industry 15 years ago.

"Out of the top 15 IT services companies operating here more than a decade ago, seven were Australian owned; now we only have Volante and Kaz," he said.

A report published last year by the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies found job growth in the information services sector was strong throughout the 1990s increasing by almost 16 percent per annum.

There were around 25,200 businesses operating in the Australian ICT industry in 2001 and 96 percent of all specialist ICT businesses were from the SME sector employing fewer than 20 people.

The report also found that almost 44 percent of all jobs in the ICT industry are based in NSW.

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