ACS’ election manifesto unveiled

James Riley
Editorial Director

Establishing a $100 million skills fund to address the needs of the fourth industry revolution is one of 17 policy ideas the Australian Computer Society (ACS) has put forward for the incoming federal government to adopt to help Australians attract higher paying jobs.

The policy recommendations are outlined in ACS’ 2019 federal election manifesto, which was developed following a member survey that identified key blockers that are inhibiting Australia’s potential in the digital economy. It also identifies key enablers.

ACS president Yohan Ramasundara said Australia has some ways to go before it could achieve its full potential as a digital economy.

Yohan Ramasundara: Skills development should be a priority for the incoming government

“When you consider the success of Israel and Singapore in attracting inbound corporate investment, compounded by tax minimisation strategies of multinationals, we as a nation are not maximising our purchasing power,” he said.

“We need to establish and execute a national strategy that attracts multi-national R&D, engineering centres, high-tech and deep-tech labs to Australia; that will support building the skills and reskilling opportunities for our nation’s citizens to attract higher paying jobs.

“Australia has the second highest computer availability in schools across the world, yet nearly 50 per cent of our students are ICT illiterate. Education reform remains a key national priority.”

The manifesto also called for the need to ignite capital investment in Australian early-stage high-growth technology companies, such as through introducing an early stage tech investment initiative within superannuation where individual Australian citizens can allocate up to an additional 2 per cent above the employer compulsory superannuation guarantee.

The ACS also recommended the incoming federal government to take an ecosystem approach to developing Australian expertise in artificial intelligence capability, an area which it says should be a national priority.

In the area of technology talent, the ACS believes a strategy for attracting multi-nationals to open R&D, engineering centres, high tech and deep tech labs in Australia needs to be established and executed.

“As the world’s 13th largest economy, Australia and has significant purchasing power. To continue to build skilling and reskilling opportunities for our nation’s citizens, attracting inbound investment that enables knowledge and skills transfer needs to be a priority area,” the manifesto said.

Education was another policy area of the manifesto, highlighting the importance of a STEAM skilled workforce by 2035. The recommendations that the ACS believes will set the country on the path to achieving this is mandating mathematics to year 12 nationally, and introducing minimum 65 Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) score for all teaching degrees.

“The best way to expedite technology and knowledge transfer is through the development of our nation’s human capital. If we want to ensure Australians attract higher paying jobs in the future, these are the high impact policy levers that need to be addressed,” Mr Ramasundara said.

The other recommendations the ACS has made focus on building Australia’s smart cities.

These include creating a National Smart City Authority, that will oversee the modernisation of our nation’s cities and align interests and co-operative arrangements across all three tiers of government; developing of a national Smart City Strategy; and implementing compulsory physical assets as part of federal government procurement contracts and funding arrangements to fast-track IoT adoption.

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