Wednesday, 03 April 2019 04:30

ACS welcomes Budget skills package, but says more is needed Featured

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ACS president Yohan Ramasundara: "Much more investment should be made to improve the technology skills of the Australian workforce." ACS president Yohan Ramasundara: "Much more investment should be made to improve the technology skills of the Australian workforce." Supplied

The Australian Computer Society has welcomed the announcement of a $525.3 million skills package in Tuesday's Federal Budget, but says more investment is needed to develop skills in the country.

The ACS said in a statement that the establishment of a National Skills Commission to focus training on the VET sector, the $62.4 million expansion of second-chance learning programs and the $20.1 million over four years to spot emerging skills needed in Australia were all much-needed programs.

But, it said this still fell short of providing the degree of upskilling needed in technology.

“Technology jobs are the jobs of the future,” said ACS president Yohan Ramasundara. “Many of the high-paying jobs of the next decade are going to be technology jobs, and a large proportion of the funds allotted to skills have been targeted not at technology jobs, but at trade skills. Much more investment should be made to improve the technology skills of the Australian workforce.

“ACS’ Australia’s Digital Pulse 2018 revealed that Australia would need 100,000 new technology professionals over the next five years just to keep up with current demand. This skills package should help deliver those jobs, and we’re pleased to see that the government has been listening to the calls for workforce reform, but what is in this budget is inadequate for that purpose.”

The organisation was also positive about the program to improve STEM Gender Equality. The Budget allocated $3.4 million over four years to encourage more women and girls to engage in STEM learning and careers.

“It’s no secret that the technology industry has a significant gender imbalance,” said Ramasundara. “Females make up on average 28% of the ICT workforce, compared to 45% of the workforce as a whole. Addressing that imbalance is a key issue that we have needed to address in Australia for some time. However, $850,000 per year won’t go too far in narrowing the gap.”

The ACS said there other programs that should prove positive for the Australian technology sector.

These include the $19.5 million commitment for continuation of the space program, the $67.1 million funding for GovPass, and $10 million provided over four years to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to deliver online safety education.

Ramasundara was full of praise for the focus on cyber security for the Federal Election.

“The government’s commitment to the cyber uplift for federal government systems for the 2019 federal election is commendable,” he said.

“It has been clear that foreign actors including governments are now more than happy to interfere in elections, and the government should be doing everything it can to ensure that Australian elections remain safe and fair.”

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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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