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Can low-code development be the answer to Australia’s IT skills shortage?

As current labour market conditions continue to tighten and tech roles remain hard to fill, businesses across Australia have been forced to adapt their strategies and find creative ways to address skills shortages in numerous areas. It’s been a particular challenge for those in the IT landscape, trying to ride out the digital transformation wave amid a shortfall of skilled tech talent.

At the much-anticipated Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra, commitments towards building a modern skills base and getting 1.2 million people in tech jobs by 2030 were warmly welcomed – but is there more that can be done?

According to many in the software development space, low-code application development platforms could be the next step to empowering a new workforce into this arena.

“Low-code is an application development method that elevates coding from textual to visual and provides a drag-and-drop approach,” elaborated Jornt Moerland, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific at Mendix.

“In the general app development process, there’s a need for consistent checking, making sure it’s running well before you deploy it. With low code, every step of the application lifecycle can now be automated. It eliminates the need for technical testers, allows for much smaller teams (including non-technical developers, subject matter experts, and business stakeholders) and eliminates a lot of the overhead technical requirements of the process.”

Increasingly, low-code application development platforms (LCAPs) are being touted as the best way to utilise Australia’s existing talent to deliver apps faster while getting departments outside of IT involved in development. Its visual nature improves accessibility and collaboration, thus allowing mixed teams to focus on adding value.

The programmer’s experience is also made easier by built-in databases and ‘one click’ deployment of applications.

Since the pandemic, the surge in remote development has also been viewed as a driving force for low-code adoption.

“From ideation to integrated monitoring and testing capabilities and delivering the end result, a cloud-based low-code platform is able to create numerous products in the segment, including web apps and even augmented reality. You’re able to reduce the overall development resources by up to 70 per cent, saving time and resources,” Jornt added.

ALSO READ: ‘Crippling shortages’: business groups respond to Australia’s latest Skills Priority List

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Expanding talent pools with low-code solutions

Technological research and consulting firm Gartner has predicted that the global demand for hyper automation technology (which includes low-code solutions, robotics, and virtual assistants) will hit nearly $600 billion by the end of this year.

It predicts low-code will account for more than 70 per cent of application development operations by 2024.

Jornt isn’t surprised by these figures.

“In Australia alone, we’re seeing how the business demand for IT talent far outweighs the actual supply of developers, and organisations aren’t able to offer the appealing position to keep up with the demand. It’s a vicious cycle we’re experiencing here,” he said.

Demand for skills like cloud computing, software development, machine learning, blockchain, and cloud computing continue to top the tech talent recruitment lists in the country.

“With platforms like Mendix, we’re able to expand the potential talent pool to a much bigger set of people. This seems an inevitable path for the Australian market to go down. Our web-based, no code integrated development environments (IDEs) allow for simply drag-and-drop functions while our desktop IDEs allows for more complex solutions for enterprises as well, allowing for custom code like Java and CSS abilities. Thus, you’re able to achieve speed and flexibility with versatility.”

However, Mendix’s features include more than just visual modelling, scalable environments, and collaboration tools. Through reusable components, skilled developers can customise and extend low-code app components, while seamlessly moving through the ideation, development, testing, deployment, and operations phases of the application lifecycle.

Accelerating digital transformation

When making the leap towards low-code solutions, key questions to consider in choosing an appropriate platform include: are there built-in tools to facilitate real-time collaboration between business and IT in the app lifecycle? Are there abilities to integrate with any system and data source? Can the user experience (UX) be optimised across web, mobile, and immersive experiences? Is there an option to deploy on public, private, on-premises, or hybrid clouds? And finally, would type of applications need to be delivered?

Combining app development with intelligent automation, data integration, and artificial intelligence to elevate development solutions, there’s a reason that Mendix has been adopted by over 4,000 companies and 250,000 developers around the world.

“Our clients gravitate to our low-code solutions and technology that binds everything together, to really automate custom software development,” Jornt observed. “In that respect, we’re already in the future now, using our investments and direction to help customers develop not one but hundreds of apps.”

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ALSO READ: Let’s Talk: The recipe for making a product stand out in a crowded market

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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