Ron Gauci, CEO, AIIA
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) welcomes the Skills Package of $525.3 million announced in Tuesday night’s Federal Budget, especially the $15.6 million in capital funding over four years from 2019-20 to further improve the quality of the Vocational Education and Training (VET).
However, the AIIA is concerned it doesn’t go far enough on two critical priorities for driving Australia’s future economic growth: digital skills, and more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
In its pre-budget submission to Government, the AIIA identified the development and supply of digital skills as a key priority for Australia’s future economic growth. Today, the AIIA commends the injection of Skills Package funding but says the outcomes must be more clearly focused on identifying and developing digital skills.
“The proposed $20.1 million investment in emerging skills as part of the Jobs and Education Data Infrastructure Project is a solid start, but will do little to foster the calibre and volume of digital skills required to meet current demand in data analytics, machine learning, cybersecurity, robotics to support Australia’s digital economy,” says Ron Gauci, CEO, AIIA.
“It is also disappointing to see such a relatively low level of investment in addressing the persistent gender imbalance in STEM. A mere $3.4 million over four years to encourage more women into STEM education and careers is a drop in the ocean of possibility,” he says.
The peak member body for the ICT industry says active collaboration between industry organisations, government and research institutes is key to realising the economic potential of the fourth industrial revolution for everyday Australians. Therefore, the success of the soon to be established National Skills Commission, Skills Organisation and National Career’s Institute in fostering digital skills and careers will depend on cross sector collaboration.
”Our pre-budget submission to Government highlighted the urgency of addressing Australia’s significant digital skills gap. If we are to keep pace with other developed economies, we must up-skill and cross-skill our workforce as an absolute priority, and work together to achieve clearly articulated shared outcomes,” said Mr Gauci.
“AIIA members anticipate working with the Government to develop a digital curriculum for
its proposed $67.5 million over five years trial of 10 national, school based, VET training hubs aiming to provide school leavers with the digital skills required by local industry,” he added.
AIIA members look forward to viewing the opposition’s policies on fostering digital skills in Australia.
Patrick Pathinathan, Telecommunications Client Director at Pivotal Software:
“Last night’s Federal Budget includes an investment in upskilling people in areas of IT, communications and cybersecurity, high-demand skills in which Australia has a significant shortage. The budget also, for the second consecutive year, allocated funds for cybersecurity, recognising that the threat of cybersecurity breaches will continue to impact individuals and businesses across the country.
Whilst this is a good step forward, further investment in ICT literacy is needed across schools and universities to better equip the next generation with the skills needed in the areas of AI, Machine Learning & IoT. Skills shortages in these areas will become more apparent as 5G is rolled out across the country by various telecommunications companies, with Telstra being an early adopter.
The investment in the National Careers Institute is a good step forward. The success of this investment will be evident as Australia implements learning pathways to implement consistent guidance and provide quality career advice that is recognised on a global stage. The establishment of the National Skills Commission is also a significant step forward to drive long-term reform across the VET sector to help address the national labour market.”
“I was hoping the federal government would do more to support Australian innovators like us who hire highly skilled local engineers to design mobile satellite equipment. Beam Communications has actively utilised the R&D program with great success as it has enabled to be at the forefront of developing and launching many world first products utilising local talent and resources.
The R&D grants drives innovation as well as encourages the employment of local talent and I think it’s a missed opportunity for the federal government not to offer more support in this area.
“I was also hoping that the government would offer more support for us to export our products to the world, particularly now as we are about to launch a new range of satellite and 4G devices. While it’s great that the federal government is putting aside $60m in export grants, we can’t apply for any of it as there is a cap on the number of Export Market Development Grants we can apply for, and we’ve used them up for our existing portfolio of products.”