Canberra, Wednesday 14 May 2014: The peak body for the Information Communications Technology (ICT) profession, the Australian Computer Society (ACS), welcomed elements of the 2014 Federal Budget in supporting Australia’s need for a skilled professional ICT workforce to drive economic growth.
ACS President, Ms Brenda Aynsley, said that the ACS would have preferred to see ICT - the driver of innovation and representing approximately 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP - as a centrepiece of the 2014 Budget, but that major funding reforms across education and industry were welcome to drive innovation, competitiveness and growth in the economy, specifically:
- Expanding access to higher education: Students outside the university system have been disadvantaged with administrative costs in addition to income dependent loans and were excluded from government support. The budget focus on expanding access to higher education support in diplomas and associate degrees brings equity into student’s educational choices and will drive innovation through competition among Australia’s higher education providers.
- The Restart initiative to encourage businesses to hire workers over 50: The ACS has continuously advocated for the need to recognise ageism in employer hiring decisions and commends the government on the Restart program to assist employers tap into the skills and experience older workers have, particularly as it is well documented that small to medium enterprises struggle to find ICT skills to help drive innovation and growth.
- A welcome focus on start-ups: The $484.2m Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme to bring business and research more closely together to develop and commercialise home-grown ideas.
- $476m investment in the Industry Skills Fund to simplify vocational training and narrow the gap between training and employment.
- $50M Manufacturing Transition Grants Programme to help areas of the economy that are being challenged by both global market forces and the disruption of technology.
- $150m for critical research infrastructure
- The announcement of a root and branch review of competition laws by March 2015. The ACS will work with the Australian Services Roundtable to ensure that ICT services and ICT service exports are specifically acknowledged in this review.
- Continuation of Export Market Development Grants to assist small businesses open new markets.
“The ACS is working through the detail of the budget with our industry and educational partners. The focus on infrastructure and medical research is welcome but the role of ICT in enabling these needs to be highlighted and supported,” said Ms Aynsley.
“We remain particularly interested in the Government’s consideration of the Commission of Audit report which recognises ICT’s central role in the new operating model of government as a digital by default strategy.” Ms Aynsley said.
Adam Redman, Australian Computer Society, 0448 883 445
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. Visit www.acs.org.au for more information.