Wednesday, 13 May 2015 13:13

ACS: Budget falls short on education, training Featured

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Government support for startups and initiatives to re-focus the national training system in this year’s budget has drawn a tick of approval from the Australian Computer Society (ACS), but it wants much more to be done to meet the demands of a ‘fast-paced’ digital economy.

But, while welcoming some of the government’s initiatives, the ACS has called on the decision-makers in Canberra to do more in areas like education and training in order for the country to remain “competitive and prosperous” as the digital economy continues to develop.

“ACS welcomes the Government’s focus on improving the quality of training in the VET sector,” said ACS CEO Andrew Johnson.

“Employers are increasingly concerned that our training systems are not producing graduates with the skills and competencies they need. The Industry Skills Fund is a particularly worthwhile initiative as is the recently announced creation of the Australian Industry and Skills Council.”

Johnson says that start-ups are drivers of innovation and jobs, and it is critical that Government create an environment that supports and encourages them and, “very importantly, keeps them in Australia”.

“So the ACS welcomes the announcements in the budget that provide immediate deductibility of professional expenses, removes obstacles to crowd-sourced equity and expands tax concessions for employee share schemes. The tax cut of 1.5% for small businesses is also welcome.”

“However whilst these initiatives are encouraging and a move in the right direction, much more needs to be done,” Johnson says.

 “In today’s globally connected digital world, our education and training systems need to place a far higher priority on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills, including Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills.”

Johnson cites recent reports suggesting 75% of the fastest growing occupations in the future will require people with STEM and ICT skills.

“The budget highlighted that whilst 45% of Australia’s growth in the last three years came from the mining sector, that sector’s contribution in the next three years will drop significantly to only 16%.

“This highlights the huge structural changes occurring in our economy.  Jobs in the future will come increasingly from knowledge intensive industries. These are industries underpinned by people with ICT and STEM skills and driven by innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Johnson reiterates the ACS’ call for more to be done to build on some of the important initiatives in this budget, and say that Australian needs to work collaboratively as a nation to “shape a workforce that has the skills, competencies lved. “Therefore, we believe that it is too early to be capping the amount of money allocated to the industry's cost recovery.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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