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Tech education start-ups ready to boom with Australia on the verge of a massive digital skills crunch

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 | By Rose Powell

Australia is entering a period when rapid upskilling will be needed to maintain economic growth, says the local head of adult education start-up General Assembly.


Regional director Riley Batchelor says that with increasing demanded from employers for technical skills from new and incumbent staff, start-ups working in this space can anticipate booming demand.


“Five thousand students later and we can say there is a pretty clear trend from the last two years of skyrocketing demand for the coding related subjects,” Batchelor says.


He adds everyone from entrepreneurs to employees in industries from retail to government are increasingly expected to be code-literate.


“We’re already seeing the first phase of the digital upskillings,” Batchelor says. “The start-up and digital space is growing at the moment. We’re seeing a huge demand from across the whole spectrum as digital is touching a wide variety of people.”


Batchelor adds the rise of design-focused and user-friendly technology powerhouses such as Apple have also sparked increasing understanding and investment in developing user experience skills.


“It makes sense that start-ups get the importance of user experience, but it’s spreading beyond that as well. You need to get to know your users, do some persona development and create good digital products with clean mobile experiences,” Batchelor says.


General Assembly has branches in the United States and the United Kingdom. Batchelor says Australian founders, employers and policy makers can look to these countries to get a feel for how the boom may progress and the impact it could have.


“We’re in the very early stages of what’s going to be a huge boom in digital skills. We can see from the US and UK how it’s happened there and what it looks like, so we can expect it’s only going to grow,” Batchelor.


General Assembly recently announced a free online course with Google Australia covering the fundamental aspects of launching an online start-up.


It has also recently announced its opening a second campus in Sydney’s Surry Hills, one suburb over from its existing site at the Fishburners co-working space in Ultimo.