The Queensland government is readying new long-term innovation and digital economy plans with state ministers working on a new whole-of-government digital strategy and a revamped startup push, while also rolling out a plan to produce 10,000 digital professionals in just a few years.
Digital Economy minister Leeanne Enoch said the “big picture” strategies were being designed to give the local industry certainty for years ahead regardless of politics, and to support the state’s economic recovery.
MS Enoch launched the Queensland government’s five-year digital strategy in 2017, which is now due for a refresh. She told InnovationAus she and other ministers are now “finalising” a new version of the strategic plan
“[The digital strategy] will give us a longer lifespan that we can all sign up to and certainly the industry will be able to drive that, regardless of what goes on in a partisan or bipartisan way,” Ms Enoch said.
“It gives them the capacity to utilise that strategy for future conversations about what’s required.”
It will follow a three-year $8 million program to grow the number of Queensland digital professionals across the public and private sector. Launched last month by Ms Enoch, the Digital Professional Workforce Action Plan will initially focus on raising awareness about the need for more digital skills and the career possibilities for younger Queenslanders and those considering a career change.
It will also fund TAFE training and traineeship programs to help more digital professionals enter the workforce and improve gender, cultural and neuro diversity levels in digital professions. Ms Enoch said it is critical to grow the number of digital professionals in the state to support emerging industries and the transformation of existing ones.
“My view is that every single traditional industry that we have in Queensland and right across Australia has an intersect with digital economy,” Ms Enoch said,
“It is something that cuts right across all industries.”
The policy was developed with heavy involvement from Queensland’s digital sector, including leading ICT groups, with Ms Enoch taking over consultations after a Cabinet reshuffle last year when the Palaszczuk Labor government was returned for a third term.
“Every stakeholder that I’ve spoken to in the last seven months has been very clear with me that we needed to see a greater investment in the workforce,” Ms Enoch said.
The state government will look to build its own digital capabilities with about $20 million in the latest budget for this year’s COVID-19 digital service programs, cybersecurity upgrades and a digital archives project.
Since entering the state Parliament in 2015, Ms Enoch has held either the science, innovation or digital economy portfolios, and launched the state’s $180 million innovation initiative Advance Queensland.
“It set a very strong signal to the rest of Australia and to the Asia Pacific region that Queensland was the place to come and support [a] startup, and then as a launchpad into the Asia Pacific market,” Ms Enoch told InnovationAus this week.
Advance Queensland has gone on to invest $755 million in the state’s innovation ecosystem through various funding and support programs, and attracted a further $965 million from program partners.
But a former chief entrepreneur questioned the government’s commitment to innovation in the state, as the role was left vacant for six months and Queensland media reported the position would be axed.
Instead, the government appointed Mr Gerrard and announced he would work with an advisory council to “enhance” the role.
Ms Enoch said she is now working with other ministers on the launch of the advisory council as part of a “recast” of signals to the startup and innovation sector in the pandemic recovery.
“Post COVID, I think what we’re seeing is the investment in Advance Queensland is now coming to fruition. And innovation, once again, is coming to the fore as we try to tackle very complex issues,” she told InnovationAus.
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