Vocational Education Insights: Implications of Australia’s digital economy strategy

Vocational Education Insights: Implications of Australia’s digital economy strategy

The Australian federal government has recently announced plans to invest nearly $1.2bn for its Digital Economy Strategy, which aims to prepare the country for the challenges and opportunities that come with rapid digital transformation. Additionally, the strategy aims to deliver a modern digital economy by 2030.

“Every business in Australia is now a digital business,” says Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “This transformation is not merely a national one that needs to happen—it’s a global one that is happening. We must keep our foot on the digital accelerator to secure our economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Spotlight on digital skills

The Digital Economy Strategy will prioritise investing in emerging technologies, building digital skills, encouraging business investment, and enhancing digital government service delivery. In particular, the initiative earmarks a $101.8m investment towards improving digital skills, including a pilot program for work-based digital cadetships.

Recent estimates reveal that 87% of jobs now require digital skills across every sector and industry. Additionally, it is estimated that 250,000 new jobs will be created as a result of digitalisation by 2025. In 2019 alone, Australia had more than 770,000 technology workers—and this number continues to grow.

As such, this investment towards digital upskilling will help create a pipeline of graduates with advanced digital skills, all coming through Australia’s education and training ecosystem, of which EdventureCo is a part.

This is a step in the right direction. Our goal has always been to equip students with relevant digital skills in a fast-changing world. Today, work is changing faster than education. This significant investment towards digital skills helps strengthen the capabilities for our future workforce.”

Areas for improvement

While these investments are a welcome boost for the technology sector, there are still some areas that need a stronger commitment from the federal government.

Ron Gauci, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association, says that while the $124.1m investment in artificial intelligence, for example, exhibits the federal government’s commitment to the Digital Economy Strategy, this may not be enough to fully develop the sector. In April, the Association demonstrated that $250m was needed to fully fund a national AI strategy. However, only half of that was allocated by the federal government.

Additionally, some technology leaders found that the federal government’s $50m investment towards enhancing cybersecurity was lacking. Ian Yip, CEO of cybersecurity firm Avertro, says that this speaks to how underinvested the national ecosystem is on the issue of cybersafety.

At EdventureCo, we drive upskilling for the digital economy. In step with the Australian federal government’s vision for a digital economy, EdventureCo will continue to equip students with relevant digital skills that will give them an edge in an increasingly automated world.