SA, Fed govts green light $60m digital tech academy

Digital Technologies Academy go ahead

Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen innovation precinct will soon play host to a $60 million digital and cyber training hub, with the South Australian and Federal governments giving the go-ahead to establish a new Digital Technologies Academy.

It is hoped the new digital and cyber specialist training facility will go some way to patching Australia’s growing digital skills deficit, delivering “a pipeline of professionals to meet rapidly growing labour demand across a broad range of high-tech sectors”.

The industry-focused training institution is designed to produce job-ready graduates in the key growth sectors of technology and innovation.

Construction of the Academy is set to commence from late 2023.

The Academy forms part of the wider Adelaide City Deal (ACD), a 10-year partnership between the Australian and South Australian Governments and the City of Adelaide to expand SA’s local innovation economy.

The governments have set aside $699 million for the ACD, with Lot Fourteen – Adelaide’s dedicated research, innovation, and entrepreneur hub – a key focus area for the Deal.

Lot Fourteen currently plays host to a number of tech and innovation-focused companies and research facilities, including the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre, MIT bigdata Living Lab, as well as hyperscale cloud providers Google Cloud Services, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure.

Commenting on the launch, Federal Minister for Communications and Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, said the Academy would help to nurture the “necessary skills to fill the many high-value tech jobs already on offer across the state – a number that is expected to grow significantly in the future”.

Deloitte Access Economics forecasts the number of technology workers in Australia will pass 1 million in 2024. By 2026, there will be nearly 300,000 more technology workers in the Australian workforce.

A report by research university RMIT earlier this year also revealed a growing digital skills gap in the country, with 87 per cent of jobs now requiring some level of digital skills.

Australia, the report noted, also needs 156,000 new technology workers to keep pace with the current digital transformation push within businesses.

South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall said a dedicated digital technologies training academy would prove “a game-changer” for the state’s tech and cyber jobs market.

“At a time where more and more high-tech jobs are coming online here in South Australia, it’s absolutely vital we can train the talent to take these jobs,” Marshall said.

“South Australia is unashamedly the space, defence and cyber state – it’s my aim to create a pipeline of jobs in these industries so we can put the brain-drain behind us and be the country’s beacon for major companies in these areas.

“Increasing digital skills and capabilities is crucial to drive innovation and productivity in South Australia, while enabling our businesses to remain internationally competitive.”

Lot Fourteen State Project Lead, Di Dixon said the Academy would complement the precinct’s existing hi-tech research and industry focus.

“A new educational facility, aligning closely with the vision and objectives of Lot Fourteen, would be another fantastic business attractor for the innovation district and the state,” Dixon said.

“Lot Fourteen provides companies with the opportunity for co-location with like-minded businesses, curating a collaborative ecosystem of entrepreneurs and innovators in space, defence, hi-tech and creative industries.”

She added that a number of “world-leading digital technology firms, including Accenture, MTX, Cognizant and Deloitte, are already investing in Adelaide and are seeking to employ large workforces to meet their business needs”.