Labor has rounded out its campaign-long focus on skills and capability development with a $5 million pledge to establish a Digital Skills Centre of Excellence. It would seek a state or territory government to stump up as an equal partner to launch the facility.
The Digital Skills Centre follows a series of announcements aimed at preparing the workforce for sweeping changes to jobs, including a commitment to waive upfront fees for 5,000 technology students, $25 million for a network of digital skills hubs across the regions, a $4 million National Centre AI Excellence in Melbourne, and a National Blockchain Academy in Perth.
The commitments aim to better equip Australians for the workplace skills they need now and into the future.
Labor digital economy spokesman Ed Husic says that as technology is used by businesses more and more to drive productivity and create stronger firms, the skills expectations of working Australians will change as well.
“And if we want the nation to become more innovative and globally competitive, we need people with the skills to help achieve this,” he said.
An Australian Computer Society report written by Deloitte Access Economics estimates Australia needs a further 100,000 digital skilled workers between now and 2023, but is not producing locally skilled workers at anywhere near the rate to meet this demand.
In the absence of a locally skilled workforce, businesses have relied increasingly on temporary skills visas to attract talent.
Mr Husic said local workers would be trained in the new Digital Skills Centre utilising the most up-to-date or emerging technology and, importantly, would actively develop training platforms that would help both metropolitan and regional based students.
The Centre would also bring together TAFE and digital training providers with a proven track record to help deliver modern skills development pathways.
Funding for the Centre will come from the $25m investment Labor has set aside for the development of Regional Digital Skills Hubs.