WA needs 3,000 extra data scientists by 2030

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Dr Karl Kruszelnicki speaking at the WA Data Science for Business Conference and Exhibition. Source: Image supplied.

Western Australia will need an extra 3,000 data scientists by 2030 to lead the digital revolution, the State’s inaugural data science conference was told last week.

Hosted by the Curtin University based WA Data Science Innovation Hub (WADSIH), the 2022 Data Science for Business Conference and Exhibition brought together more than 500 business leaders and data science specialists to discuss the impact that artificial intelligence and advanced analytics will have on the future growth of business in our state.

The 3,000 figure comes from a 2020 report commissioned by WADSIH and produced by Faethm and KPMG.

“Work across all industries is becoming more data-driven, affecting both the skills and jobs required,” said the report.

“Within Western Australia the data science ecosystem infrastructure is characterised by data-intensive research groups, facilities that support and enhance Western Australia data science projects and community groups who work with both individuals and organisations to enhance understanding and connections within the data science community.”

“Western Australia will need more data scientists – both in quantity and quality.”

The conference heard from Innovation and ICT Minister, the Honourable Stephen Dawson MLC, leading Australian scientist and science communicator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Chief Scientist of Western Australia Professor Peter Klinken, former WA Australian of the Year Professor Lyn Beazley and Curtin Institute for Computation Director Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, among many others.

Minister Dawson said the conference was an insightful and rewarding two-day event that focused on exploring how data science could be used for business innovation and growth.

“Supporting business and innovation is at the heart of the McGowan Government’s ability to diversify WA’s economy and through the second round of the New Industries Fund, we’ve committed $1.2 million over the next four years to the hub, building on an earlier investment of $1 million.”

WADSIH Director Mr Alex Jenkins said the inaugural conference was designed to facilitate the conversations and connections required to advance the uptake of data science capability, projects and technologies in WA.

WA is uniquely placed to take the lead in the digital revolution due to our natural advantage in mining, agriculture and health but we really need to act now to secure the extra 3,000 data scientists we will need by 2030.

“There is not a single sector of the economy that won’t be impacted by data science so we are committed to giving WA businesses the support they need to ensure they can make the most of the opportunities that artificial intelligence presents.

“A critical component of our inaugural conference was inspiring the next generation of data scientists to consider it as a career, as well as encouraging professionals to incorporate data science into their existing skill set.”

Professor Klinken said WA was well placed to take the lead given its natural strengths across mining, technology, health, renewable energy and our entrepreneurial community.

“This is probably the fastest period of change in human history and if you are static, you’re not going forward. We have to make sure that we participate in this period of rapid change and make the most of our comparative advantages and turn them into competitive advantages.”

WA Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken. Source: Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

While 87% of Australian jobs currently require digital literacy skills, innovations by digital technologies are predicted to add up to $315 billion to the national economy in the next seven years.

A study by PwC estimates that global gross domestic product may increase by up to 14% (the equivalent of US$15.7 trillion) by 2030 as the result of the accelerating development and take-up of artificial intelligence.

In order to be apart of this digital revolution with massive growth potential, Professor Klinken brought to attention the need for WA to build an ecosystem and infrastructure that attracts the best and brightest people in data science.

“I believe that our university sector, our government sector, our industry sector have a responsibility to work together to make sure that they provide the very best environment that makes it attractive to data scientists, data analysts and artificial intelligence experts to want to work here.”

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Read the original report that the 3,000 figure comes from.

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