Digital skills, innovation and government ICT procurement are the top three key policy areas the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has highlighted as part of its pre-budget submission.
Lodged on 1 February, AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said fostering the skills needed for the future with the right policies, regulatory framework and funding was critical to Australia’s economic growth and productivity. Gauci took on the CEO post in December, replacing Rob Fitzpatrick at the time.
The government opened up its pre-budget submission process in December, seeking submissions from business and community groups regarding priorities for the 2019-20 Budget.
“There is currently a significant shortfall of available digital skills and expertise in the Australian workforce,” Gauci said. "The AIIA is committed to ensuring that the right digital skills are identified, developed and funded with the support of government policies and legislation."
Specifically, the AIIA recommends that to address the local digital skills shortage, the government should look into developing and implementing a national education campaign targeting students, teachers, parents and career advisors to help increase awareness of the digital career possibilities and rewards attached to them.
It has also suggested that investment should be going towards developing and provisioning a nationally accredited Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications.
Looking at digital innovation and commercialisation in Australia, the AIIA recommends the establishment of an advisory and oversight body made up of representatives from across the industry, research institutes and government. Its main responsibility will be to help drive the National Innovation Agenda, including R&D.
There should also be a much more concerted effort made to undertake R&D activities in Australia through increased grants and internationally competitive tax incentives.
“Currently the national opportunity to foster business entrepreneurship and innovation in government services is being hampered by complex and risk averse procurement processes,” Gauci said.
“The AIIA would like to see the establishment of an advisory body to improve the digital sourcing capability and digital literacy of the Australian public Service in partnership with industry and research institutions.”
The AIIA also put forward a recommendation to improving digital sourcing by the Australian government through simplifying, improving transparency and consistency in digital sourcing processes, as well as practices across government agencies in partnership with industry and research institutes.
The AIIA also continuously supported a program to improve government digital sourcing processes under an advisory body constituted by senior executives from government agencies and industry.