What makes a ‘tech-friendly’ budget: ACS

The professional association for Australia’s technology sector, the Australian Computer Society (ACS), has said the October budget is seen as an opportunity for the technology industry to be recognised as one of the nation’s fastest growing industries given the recent announcements.

The ACS has said it sees the recent Government’s efforts to boost industry diversity, fund free TAFE and support students looking to establish start-up businesses as encouraging signs for “a tech-friendly budget”.

“With technology being critical to every industry and underpinning our economic growth, it’s vital the budget takes steps to address the sector’s long-standing skills shortage and we’re confident this will be a focus given the Labor Party’s election commitments to get more Australians into high paid and secure jobs,” ACS said in a statement.

In April, ACS made nine proposals to grow the tech sector which included a push towards greater diversity and inclusion in the technology professions, promotion of digital technology education in schools as well as boosting the workforce’s digital skills.

Under these proposals, diversity and inclusion should be driven by a $500 million diversity trainee program aimed at women and groups underrepresented in the IT sector where the program would provide employees a subsidy of $20,000 for 5,000 places over five years.

At the same time, a $100 million program would be helpful to boost the resources and support for school teachers to implement the Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies framework.

In order to boost the workforce’s digital skills, the ACS proposed a program offering up to $10,000 per employee in tax credit for businesses providing vocational technical training for staff, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence (IT) and cybersecurity.

The ACS also recommended a strong focus on strengthening the National Cybersecurity Strategy which would, in particular, help protect Australian cyber infrastructure from foreign and domestic threats and mandate Australian Government agencies and suppliers to be compliant with Level 2 of the the Essential Eight Maturity Model.

The other recommendations included a $100 million program to help crack down on spam and scams, coupled with stronger requirements for telecommunications operators, and a $500 million dollar boost for Australia’s regional digital economy to support regional councils and local groups providing hubs aimed at improving the digital literacy of local communities and businesses.

The ACS also called on the Government to establish a Cabinet-level Digital Economy portfolio to streamline legislation and regulation and proposed to create a Commonwealth Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Parliamentary Services to provide members of Parliament with advice and guidance upon science and technology matters.

According to the tech association, of equal importance was establishing a commission to evaluate the needs of tomorrow’s workforce and the effects of technological change on the workplaces, educational needs and the demands of future society.

ACS looks forward to the Albanese government’s first budget and sees it as an opportunity for the technology industry to be recognised as one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.

“ACS is also hoping to see the budget adopt the measures ACS proposed ahead of this year’s Federal election where we made nine proposals to grow the tech sector, including a trainee program aimed at boosting diversity, encouraging business investment in digital skills and initiatives to help teachers deliver IT related subjects.”