The recommendation to highlight how the tech sector is beneficial to the economy follows the release of Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) Election Platform last month proposing $1 billion programs to boost diversity in the IT sector, improve technology education, help reskill existing workers, and to encourage businesses to invest in digital technologies and training.
ACS president Dr Nick Tate says building the nation’s digital skills must be a priority whoever leads the government.
“The Redspice cybersecurity package in last week’s Federal budget underscores the critical role the sector plays in keeping Australia secure,” Dr Tate says.
Dr Tate adds that the pandemic has shown how technology is essential in keeping the industry and economy moving. The plans to build an advanced manufacturing and space industry will need a digitally literate workforce.
“Our annual Digital Pulse survey forecasts an annual shortfall of 60,000 IT workers and that gap is only going to widen as our need for cybersecurity specialists and other technology professionals increases.”
“Addressing this shortfall is necessary to ensure Australia’s continuing security and prosperity which is why our Election Platform last month focused on boosting the supply of digitally skilled workers across the nation, including the regions.”
“We urge all parties and candidates running to consider our Election Platform to ensure the continued strength of our economy and to deliver the jobs of the future to all Australians.”
On 11 April, ACS will be holding an election debate in Canberra to discuss the 2022 Election Platform which featured the following nine measures:
1. A program to boost the technology profession’s diversity and inclusion – Diversity trainee scheme - $500 million for a trainee program aimed at women and groups not well represented in the IT sector. The program would provide employees a subsidy of $20,000 for 5,000 places a year over five years.
2. Encouraging Digital Technology education in schools - A $100 million program to boost the resources and support for school teachers to implement the Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies framework.
3. Boosting the workforce's digital skills - Up to $10,000 per employee tax credit program for businesses providing staff vocational technical training, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
4. Strengthen the National Cybersecurity strategy - To protect Australian cyber infrastructure from foreign and domestic threats, mandate Australian government agencies and suppliers to be compliant with the Essential Eight Maturity Level 2.
5. A crackdown on spam and scams - A $100m program to eliminate online scams and text messages coupled with stronger requirements for telecommunications operators.
6. Boost Australia’s regional digital economy - A $500m dollar program to support regional councils and local groups to provide hubs aimed at improving the digital literacy of their communities and local businesses.
7. Establish a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - Create a Commonwealth Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Parliamentary Services to advise MPs and Senators regarding science and tech matters.
8. Create a Cabinet-level Digital Economy portfolio - ACS calls on the next Federal Government to establish a Cabinet-level Digital Economy portfolio to streamline and co-ordinate legislation and regulation.
9. Establish a commission to evaluate the needs of tomorrow's workforce - ACS proposes an Australia 2040 Commission to evaluate the effects of technological change on the workplace, educational needs and the demands of future society.