Tuesday, 07 May 2019 08:09

Labor pledges $25m for regional Digital Skills Hubs if elected Featured

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Ed Husic: "We know there is massive demand for workplace digital skills – it’s estimated we need 100,000 extra digitally enabled workers between now and 2023." Ed Husic: "We know there is massive demand for workplace digital skills – it’s estimated we need 100,000 extra digitally enabled workers between now and 2023." Courtesy YouTube

A Labor Government, if elected, will boost the digital skills of Australians through the injection of $25 million to drive skills development in regional Australia.

Labor Shadow Minister for Human Services and the Digital Economy Ed Husic and Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Stephen Jones said in a joint statement on Tuesday that this would primarily be through creating regional Digital Skills Hubs that would potentially assist up to 500,000 Australians.

The initiative will be announced in Kiama later on Tuesday, with Husic and Jones to be accompanied by the party's candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips.

"Regional Australia lags behind the rest of the country on digital inclusion," Jones said. "It’s not just about having a decent broadband connection - it’s also about regional skills.

“We want to transform regional Australians from simply being users of digital technology to the designers of it, applying these skills across a range of activities from agtech to smart city design.”

The statement said Labor also planned to consult industry on a plan to extend to major government IT suppliers the ratio of one employee in 10 being an apprentice.

The aim is to encourage IT providers to government to open up job pathways and play their part in reducing skills shortages.

“We know there is massive demand for workplace digital skills – it’s estimated we need 100,000 extra digitally enabled workers between now and 2023," Husic said.

“On top of this, digital skills are crucial in everything from engaging with the government or your bank, getting your next job or starting your own business. We need to make sure all Australians have the digital skills they need at work, home or the community.

“Through the power of government procurement, we want to work with industry to create training opportunities for Australians, regardless of where they live. Labor wants to use this program to work with industry to establish best practice and key skills sets to drive ICT training nationally.”

The Hubs will target groups who have been generally excluded from gaining digital skills such as older Australians, Indigenous Australians, people living with a disability, newly arrived migrants, people with English as an additional language and the long-term unemployed.

Regarding the apprenticeship initiative, the statement said only companies involved in government contracts over $5 million and running longer than a year would have to take on apprentices in the ratio mentioned.

This would be in addition to other "skill formation leadership" policies such as instituting infrastructure training and apprenticeship plans for all major projects.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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