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Australia is training more personal trainers than IT professionals – really?

By Education, People, Technology2 Comments

Michelle bridges not an itc careerI spoke at a conference this week where a CIO made this headline observation, noting that they had not been able to validate it in any way, but the horror of their claim was that it might be possible.

In true Luna Tractor fashion, and as the economist in residence, I felt the need to dig a little deeper.

The truth appears more like ‘Australia is training almost as many personal trainers as IT professionals‘ – around 14,000 ICT undergraduates in 2012; versus 10,000 studying personal training at private and public tertiary institutions in 2012.

The scarier statistic is that perhaps only 1/3 of those ICT undergraduates are coming into the workforce each year (3 year degrees on average); whereas MOST of those personal trainers (who do 1 year of study) are hitting the local gyms of Australia.

That means Australian employers get access to maybe 4500 ICT grads every year, whereas the Aussie fitness industry is over-run by 8,163 fresh grads every year.

There are twice as many personal trainers as ICT graduates entering the Australian workforce every year!

I won’t pass judgement on the state of Australia’s graduate developers versus passionate industry-trained coders (apparently we have about half-half, and I love them both equally); nor on the benefits that personal trainers bring our nation’s health. But Sam - the face of modern ICTsomething is NQR.

And for the record, IT is a way better job. Just ask this guy. What’s more, he’ll hack an award winning app with his team, and then school you on personal fitness at lunchtime for free.

My workings (for the inevitable statistical pseuds to comb through) are as follows. Note, I did not obtain the original ACS report on graduate numbers from 2012, as I am not a member. I relied on their press release.

a. How many Personal Fitness Students were there in Australia in 2012?

It’s a big and complicated industry – but there is this useful 2012 industry report by Deloitte Economics to consider, and in the executive summary (p3):

‘On the supply side, in 2011 the headcount for registered exercise professionals was 29,875 (24,875 registered with Fitness Australia and 5,000 registered with Physical Activity Australia), with average annual growth rate between 2005 and 2010 around 7.2% (Job Outlook, 2011). Approximately 56% of fitness professionals are female (16,749), and 44% male (13,126).’

This amounts to about 11,000 FTEs working in the industry (the full-time number diluted by so many part-timers). But how many are studying?

 A. Personal Fitness graduates from public RTOs in 2012: 2,768 graduates (with 65% completion) see p36 of the Deloitte report.

Suggests 4,258 total students studying – assuming it is a one year course, as the report concludes from research that there is an average time to completion of 1 year (page 35).

 B. Graduates in personal training from private RTOs in 2012: 5,395, with 90% completion (see p37)

Suggests a total of 5,995 students studying personal training in private RTOs every year.

The report was obtained here via this reference on Wikipedia.

Thus, in 2012, about 10,253 students were enrolled in Australian tertiary educational institutions studying personal fitness.

How many ITC students studying in Australia in 2012?

The Australian Computer Society suggest less than 3% of Australian tertiary undergraduates are enrolled in ICT courses in 2012. Half the number a decade ago!

The interweb handily reports on total undergraduate numbers in Australia, thanks to this emission from the government in 2011 = 480,000, so…

480,000 x 3% = 14,400 undergraduates studying ICT in Australia in 2012, across all the years of their courses. This of course ignores graduate study, which I am taking the economist’s stance on (ceteris paribus), and calling them relatively irrelevant for both professions (Deloitte certainly confirm that for Personal Trainers).

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