The Federal government’s Intergenerational Report failed to address the critical issue of digital skills, which are now the foundation for a successful economy, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) said on Friday.
The report, which was released on Thursday, said governments needed to learn lessons from the private sector when it comes to using technology to improve service delivery. The creation of the government’s Digital Transformation Office is an step in that direction, the report said.
However, ACS president Brenda Aynsley said although the report reinforces the need to retain youth, women and mature workers, it neglected to address how they will be provided with the right digital skills.
“There need to be a more focused and integrated education and training strategy by governments to help ensure Australia has the necessary digital skills base.
“With rates of productivity growth in Australia expected to stall at 1.5 per cent for the next four decades, Australia faces a major economic challenge,” said Aynsley.
“It is estimated that technology jobs have a multiplier effect of any sector, with each tech job creating five more jobs in other sectors – three times more than traditional industries.
“ICT professionals have a pivotal role to play in driving future growth and a stronger focus by governments on fostering Australia’s digital skills base will reignite productivity growth.”
The ACS has called for governments – state and federal – to place a stronger emphasis on digital technologies in education. This includes mandating a ‘digital technologies’ stream as part of the primary and secondary school curriculum with a particular focus on coding
The organisation has called for all VET courses to teach a minimum level of ICT skills and competencies; and provide more work-integrated learning opportunities for tertiary technology students to develop work readiness.
There should also be a focus on assisting SMEs attain a minimum level of digital competence and literacy, particularly programs that help organisations address specific areas of weakness, the ACS said.
“On a big picture level, we need to ensure there is an appropriate pipeline of ICT human capital to power our economy. The jury is no out – ICT skills and ICT education are now critical to national productivity and economic success,” Aynsley said.
“We can no longer rely on traditional economic growth sectors such as resources and manufacturing. Our future economic gains, across all industry sectors, will be powered by technology and ICT infrastructure.”
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