The Coalition has promised to form a Tech Workforce Roundtable to help it develop closer ties with industry if it is re-elected, and pledged to increase the proportion of women in tech jobs.
The Tech Workforce Roundtable will bring together representatives of government, industry, and the education sector to help grow the tech workforce and support the digital skills demand.
Among those that will be invited to join are the National Tech Council, the National Skills Commissioner, and the federally-funded Digital Skills Organisation, as well as other industry and education sector representatives. If re-elected, the government says it will hold the first meeting shortly after the election.
It will be jointly chaired by the Minister for the Digital Economy, who is currently Jane Hume, and the Minister for Skills, currently Stuart Robert.
Mr Robert noted that improving digital skills was essential as almost 9 in 10 jobs now require digital literacy skills.
“The Coalition is equipping Australians of all ages with the digital skills they need for the modern workforce. By building closer partnerships with industry, developing a new technology skills passport, and reforming the vocational education sector, we will open up more pathways for Australians to get a job in the fast-growing technology sector,” Mr Robert said.
If re-elected, the government will aim to see 40 per cent of tech jobs held by women by 2030. Current estimates put the proportion between 26-29 per cent.
Tech Council of Australia chief executive Kate Pounder welcomed the announcements and praised the Coalition’s commitment to women in tech in particular.
“The Tech Council of Australia welcomes the Government’s announcement today outlining a new Tech Workforce Roundtable, which will bring together government, industry and education sectors. We support all measures which seek to enhance the tech sector and allow us to capitalise on this once in a generation opportunity to make Australia a global tech powerhouse,” Ms Pounder said.
“We are especially pleased to see women called out as part of the government’s plan. Our research has shown there is a tremendous opportunity for women in the technology industry. Getting more women into tech jobs is a great deal for women as tech jobs are amongst the best-paid, most secure and most flexible in the country.”
Although not named by the government as one of the groups it would invite, professionals’ association the Australian Computer Society (ACS) said they welcomed the proposal for a Digital Skills Roundtable and that they would work closely with the Coalition if re-elected.
“ACS is also pleased the technology sector is being recognised for its critical role to Australian business. We look forward to working with whoever forms government after the May 21 election to ensure Australia continues on its path to be a leading global digital economy,” an ACS spokesperson said.
Senator Hume highlighted that the announcements support the Digital Economy Strategy which is targeting to take Australia’s data and digital economy into the top ten by 2030. Australia ranked 20th In the 2021 edition of the World Digital Competitiveness Rankings run by business school IMD. This is a fall from Australia’s 2018 ranking of 13th.
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