MEDIA RELEASE: Digital Economy key to Victoria’s Economic Growth
12th November 2014:
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) today renewed its calls on the major political parties to recognise and support the Digital Economy as the key driver of economic growth in Victoria. The ACS has highlighted five areas requiring urgent attention in this Victorian election campaign, including the need to establish a digital advisory council, to focus on improving digital skills development for students, and to deliver effective digital literacy education for SME's. Chairman of the ACS in Victoria, Michelle Beveridge, said Federal and State governments must pay attention to the impact of this burgeoning area of the economy, which employs more than 550,000 Australians in digital careers and contributes more to GDP than mining.
"While the focus in recent years on improved technology infrastructure is welcome, it is time to now focus more on how we best use that infrastructure," she said. "Over many years the Victorian economy has been undergoing structural reform with a greater emphasis now needing to be placed on digital skills and knowledge. Like our regional partners, we must recognise that the Digital Economy has become the key driver of the economy, and we need the Victorian Government to support this vital growth area.
The ACS has highlighted five core areas requiring reform and which will support the sustained growth of Victoria's Digital Economy:
1. Quality Advice to Government: ACS Victoria proposes a Digital Ministerial Advisory Council and an industry and government exchange program for key staff to develop better mutual understanding of challenges and opportunities in the digital area.
2. Support for Digital Skills: ACS is calling for urgent action to reverse the declining trend of people choosing tertiary education for a Digital Career. The ACS recommends a need to change misconceptions and attitudes around digital careers and education along with support for initiatives such as minimum required standards, certification and ongoing professional development for digital employment, support for compulsory Digital Technologies curriculum from prep to Year 10, targeted professional development of teachers in ICT and digital technologies, and ongoing support for the Digital Careers program aimed at inspiring students to pursue careers as digital professionals.
3. Improve Digital Literacy: ACS urges Government support for programs to develop far higher levels of digital literacy for SME's and NFP's in particular.
4. Better Data on the Digital Economy: Accurate, relevant and comprehensive data is a critical element of planning and decision making. The ACS urges the incoming Victorian Government to ensure that the development of its digital related strategies is done so on the basis of as accurate, up to date and complete data sets as is available, including the ACS' own Statistical Compendium. Further, ACS asks that an incoming Victorian Government join ACS in advocating to the Federal Government a collaborative project with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct a comprehensive review of current digital data categories and methods.
5. Open Data: Governments around the world are committing to open data. ACS congratulates successive Victorian Governments on their commitment to open data in recent years and urges any even stronger focus in to the future as an important element of driving innovation and productivity growth in the Victorian economy. Ms Beveridge added: "We believe an incoming Victorian Government needs to address these five issues as a priority to help ensure the Victorian economy remains nationally and internationally competitive and grows in a sustainable manner. As the impact of technology on our work and lives continues to increase, our Governments must place a higher priority on digital literacy and growing our pool of skilled professionals. The digital professional workforce is now being recognised globally as the key ingredient to sustaining a prosperous, modern economy.
"The ACS believes that if these five key issues are not addressed as priorities, there is a real danger that the digital economy will suffer, and the health of the entire Victorian economy along with it," said Ms Beveridge.
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About the Australian Computer Society
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is the professional association for Australia's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Over 20,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. The Society exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. The ACS strives for ICT professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on ICT and related matters.