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ACS Media Release: Re-elected Government must keep Digital Policy at the Forefront

Wednesday, 13 Jul 2016

Sydney, July 10, 2016: The ACS – the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector – has congratulated Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition on their re-election and called for innovation and digital policy to remain at the forefront of government thinking and decisions over the next term.

ACS President Anthony Wong said digital skills and capabilities will be key to driving the strength of the Australian economy in the years to come. “Throughout the election campaign both parties made strong commitments to the ongoing support of digital development and digital literacy. Now, it is time for the incoming Government to make good on its promises to secure Australia’s digital future and progress our digital economy – forecast by Deloitte Access Economics in research commissioned by the ACS to grow from $70 billion in 2014 to $139 billion by 2020.”

As a priority, ACS encourages the Turnbull Government to address the five policy areas identified in the ACS 2016 Election Manifesto. This includes ensuring that Australia boasts a digitally skilled workforce that is globally competitive.

Findings in Australia’s Digital Pulse 2016 reveal Australia is suffering from a deficit in specialist ICT skills, an undersupply of new ICT graduates – graduates account for only 1% of the ICT workforce – and a lack of diversity in the technology space. Mr Wong says the re-elected Government will need to work with the profession, academia and industry in a collaborative manner to address these issues as a matter of economic urgency.

An issue that the Turnbull Government cannot turn away from is the impending threat of cyber security. “We currently have a very real undersupply of cyber security specialists. This is worrying when considering the threat of cyber security could cost Australians as much as $17 billion annually. ACS reiterates its recommendation that the Turnbull Government expedite the implementation of its Cyber Security Strategy, including its plans for workforce training as part of building a cyber smart nation,” said Mr Wong.

Regarding the Turnbull Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, Mr Wong said this should not only be continued, but expanded. “With a mandate from the electorate, ACS encourages the Prime Minister to accelerate the pace of digital education, as a measure to facilitate the transformation of the economy. As the professional body for what is arguably the most important sector for Australia’s future, the ACS stands ready to assist.”

Mr Wong adds that it is not just specialist skills in demand, such as computer coding and data analytics. “As we progress into the information age, digital literacy will become an essential skill and currency, if not already. Currently, 2.5 million Australians in non-ICT roles require digital literacy skills as part of their job – a figure likely to increase exponentially over the next five years. We need to equip the Australian workforce with the skills they need to compete in the changing job market. The Government will need to work increasingly collaboratively with business and educational institutions to achieve this,” said Mr Wong.

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