Skills high on agenda for industry

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James Riley

The CSIRO, IoT Alliance Australia, Council of Small business of Australia (COSBA), and Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) are among 160-plus organisation to respond to the federal Digital Economy consultation paper.

The submissions will inform a national digital economy strategy due for launch by the middle of the year. The strategy sets out how government, the private sector and community can build industries and development digital capabilities, and to address the “digital divide” in skills in Australia.

In its submission, the CSIRO said a successful digital strategy would need to cover a broad scope of areas, from reskilling the current workforce to putting more focus on digital research and development, as well as ensuring the finance sector is up-to-speed with RegTech and FinTech and developing systems that ensure privacy is protected.

Digital economy: Access to skills is a common issue among the 160-plus submissions

The CSIRO also said an opportunity exists for Australia to lead in cyber-physical systems.

“As computers continue to become more powerful and smaller, and connectivity becomes ubiquitous, all systems with a power supply and CPU will connect to the network,” CSIRO said in its submission.

“This will impact all of Australia’s incumbent industries and create opportunities for new industries at the intersection of the physical world or domain, like agriculture and health – and the digital domain.”

The agency said for government to take these initiatives, it needed to simplify compliance obligations, develop and implement artificial intelligence capability, and move current industries and business processes into digital models.

IoT Alliance chief executive Frank Zeichner raised similar points in the association’s submission, including how upskilling Australia’s workforce, accelerating the nation’s understanding of technology, and developing a strategy that provides a “shared narrative” when it comes to export, leadership and citizen engagement should be considered.

“The development of common standards and guidelines, led by Government, would assist Australian businesses in cutting through the complexity of data security and consumer privacy issues.,” Mr Zeichner wrote.

“Businesses could use such guidelines and standards to build robust cyber security strategies which would enable them to embrace additional technologies and unlock new opportunities.”

Unsurprisingly, the OAIC’s submission explored how privacy could remain top of mind when the government considers the digital strategy.

“I appreciate that maximising the potential of the digital economy will be best realised when data can be shared, used and built upon in new ways. However the protection of personal information needs to be a central consideration,” said Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.

Mr Pilgrim pointed to how new technologies can help develop more “dynamic, multi-layered and user centric” privacy policies and notices, such as ‘just-in-time’ notices, video notices, privacy dashboards and multi-layered privacy policies to assist with readability and navigability.

Meanwhile, the priority for COSBA, according to chief executive Peter Strong, is to address the challenges faced by small businesses when it comes to education and training, cybersecurity, the available technological platforms, and competition.

“The Australian Government must work closely with industry associations in each sector to support small businesses to succeed in the digital economy. COSBOA members are committed to supporting small businesses within their association to embrace new technologies and thrive,” wrote Mr Strong.

“We need an ongoing conversation and regular engagement with government to address the significant challenges and opportunities the digital economy presents to small business.”

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