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ACS applauds skills and start-up assistance, but more to be done

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

ACS congratulates the Government on initiatives announced in last night’s budget to support start-ups and entrepreneurs and to re-focus our training system to help build a workforce with the skills needed in a modern workplace. However, more needs to be done, particularly in education, in order for Australia to remain competitive and prosperous in today’s fast-paced digital economy.

CEO of ACS, Andrew Johnson, said: “ACS welcomes the Government’s focus on improving the quality of training in the VET sector.  Employers are increasingly concerned that our training systems are not producing graduates with the skills and competencies they need. The Industry Skills Fund is a particularly worthwhile initiative as is the recently announced creation of the Australian Industry and Skills Council.

“ACS also recognises that Start-ups are drivers of innovation and jobs. It is critical therefore that Government create an environment that supports and encourages them and, very importantly, keeps them in Australia.  So the ACS welcomes the announcements in the budget that provide immediate deductibility of professional expenses, removes obstacles to crowd-sourced equity and expands tax concessions for employee share schemes. The tax cut of 1.5% for small businesses is also welcome.

“However whilst these initiatives are encouraging and a move in the right direction, much more needs to be done. In today’s globally connected digital world, our education and training systems need to place a far higher priority on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills, including Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills,” he said.

Recent reports suggest 75% of the fastest growing occupations in the future will require people with these skills . The budget highlighted that whilst 45% of Australia’s growth in the last three years came from the mining sector, that sector’s contribution in the next three years will drop significantly to only 16%. This highlights the huge structural changes occurring in our economy.  Jobs in the future will come increasingly from knowledge intensive industries. These are industries underpinned by people with ICT and STEM skills and driven by innovation and entrepreneurship.

Mr Johnson added: “The ACS maintains that more needs to be done to build on some of the important initiatives in this budget.  We need to work collaboratively as a nation to shape a workforce that has the skills, competencies and attributes needed to prosper and create jobs in a digitally connected, fast moving world.”