The Albanese government has gotten off to a better start than many of its predecessors in terms of forging productive policy connections with the nation’s sometimes fractious tech sector ahead of the skills summit, but it will need to move decisively and swiftly on public sector modernisation.
As business lobbyists and industry captains converge on the hill in Canberra on Thursday and Friday to thrash out an accord, the question of how the federal public sector can improve the delivery policy design, outcomes and services by modernising systems is certain to get an airing.
It’s a discussion that’s been a while in the making as Australia’s biggest commercial enterprises increasingly set the customer-experience benchmark for agencies by wading into citizen-to-government transactions, like the Commonwealth Bank’s Benefits Finder.
Notably, the nation’s biggest employers of technologists, the banks, have been conspicuously sitting on the sidelines, with former Queensland premier Anna Bligh carrying the flag for authorised deposit-taking institutions as head of the Australian Banking (formerly Bankers’) Association.
At the same time, Labor’s industry minister, Ed Husic, highly effective as a shadow who forged grassroots links with tech businesses and groups by seeking input to policy in opposition, has warmly embraced the recently formed Tech Council of Australia.
Mostly comprised of so-called ‘post-agile’ players, the Tech Council has conspicuous backing from local heavyweights, including Atlassian, Canva, Technology One, Xero and Wisetech Global as well as venture capital funds like Blackbird and Alium.
It’s also been smart enough to let in US giants Amazon (Web Services), Google, Microsoft and Zoom as well as a raft of FinTech and credit industry players ranging from Afterpay to Equifax and local payments stalwart Tyro.
It’s a big shift from the once-usual suspects of monolithic US tech firms and outsourcers embedding proprietary systems into government and enterprise. These days, the ASX can make billionaires out of local tech start-ups, and that home-grown money is hitting the hill.
Formed just a year ago in August 2021, the Tech Council wasted no time in shoring-up relations with Husic, an approach that paid off in spades when, in early August, Husic publicly backed the group’s ambitious target of creating 1.2 million Australian tech jobs by 2030.
Over the past year, the group has been releasing detailed economic research briefs mapping the value of the sector, its contribution and growth potential.
The reports are produced by Tech Council member Accenture, an NYSE-listed global systems integration and software builder that presciently purchased Alpha Beta Advisors in February 2020, which is a firm founded and led by former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s key economic advisor, Jim Chalmers.
Chalmers had sound reasons for offloading Alpha Beta, having been elected as the Member for Parramatta in the May 2022 federal election, a very different result to the fate of Kristina Keneally.
A prosperous Australian domestic tech industry, skilled temporary and permanent migration paths and recognition of skills and qualifications are all also grassroots issues in Parramatta’s vibrant multicultural community.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census places Parramatta’s multicultural communities at 13.9% Indian and 12.4% Chinese in terms of ancestry, with 69% of the community having both parents born overseas.
While Husic didn’t namedrop Accenture or the Tech Council in his statement of the official launch of the report, the link was clear enough for those with skin in the game.
“The report finds that Australia will need an additional 650,000 tech workers by 2030 to meet the 2030 target and we can only do that if the tech industry and the government work closely together,” Husic said in a statement on 2nd August this year.
“One of my early priorities as Minister will be to organise a roundtable to meet with key stakeholders in the tech sector to work towards shared goals.
“The Government is already taking action which is in line with the recommendations of the report,” Husic continued.
As the PM and treasurer prepare the main stage for more classical industries to thrash out a deal on wage rises, migration and collective bargaining, Husic deftly ring-fenced the key protagonists and groups at the Digital and Tech Skills Roundtable, held in Sydney on the August 17.
The event was one of a number of ministerially-hosted, industrial-grade, consultation curtain raisers that also tapped into advanced manufacturing, science and commercialisation and heavy industry, the former of which was hosted by assistant minister for manufacturing and trade Tim Ayres.
While it’s easy to characterise such sideshow events as subordinate to Albo & Chalmers’ Big Day Out, they may yet upstage the main event in terms of reaching a lasting policy consensus and effect.
The mammoth in the room leading up to the Digital and Tech Skills Roundtable was the drought in skilled migrant tech labour caused by primarily global demand but then hyper-extended by COVID.
It’s an old battleground for the tech industry that, since the 1990s, has battled for a more informed and coordinated approach to skills than the boom-bust cycles that ebbed and flowed with major upgrades of Microsoft Windows.
Prior to the arrival of the Tech Council, the two major players on the scene were the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS).
Both seem to be backing the Tech Council on a unity ticket.
While both AIIA and ACS hold influence, and the latter has a big membership base, there were frustrations on both sides of politics in terms of conflicting policy asks. The issue of abuse of the now-retired 457 visa employer-sponsored was a particular pain point.
Introduced in 1996 and co-designed with the then-nascent tech industry after extensive consultation with the Keating government, the 457 visa was intended as a ‘train the trainers’ mechanism to build a domestic tech industry.
By 2005 it was a political football, with the ACS initially fronting credible evidence of systemic labour-arbitraging, via a research report by migration expert Bob Kinnaird that was never publicly circulated after internal ructions and government reflux.
A key issue was that multinational IT outsourcers and tech labour hire houses were able to fly in large volumes of foreign-based staff, who, to prevent the erosion of local wages, were ostensibly paid mandated minimum salary levels.
However, remuneration was usually only checked against employers’ Pay-As-You-Go withholdings, rather than by remittances into overseas accounts.
At the time, Department of Immigration senior staff privately pressed for reform of secrecy provisions in the Tax Act to gain visibility of total wage payments, to no avail. Even the Department of Finance resorted to 457 visas to secure tech skills.
Now, with a protracted skills deficit bookended by COVID and a giddy local FinTech boom-and-bust cycle (Afterpay’s Anthony Eisen is a notably director of the Tech Council), Husic and friends must figure out a way forward.
In the FinTech sector, the layoffs are coming hard and fast, and banks are eagerly snapping up talent. With the exception of contractors and consultants, government agency rankings and remuneration for tech practitioners don’t even come close to industry. And that’s a headache.
If the conspicuous extraction of tributes is any measure of willingness to work with a new regime, Ed Husic is well ahead.
Rates of union membership are broadly decreasing across industry; in the tech sector, they’ve been essentially non-existent as machines automate and replace the labour of humans.
The relentless march of automation is a persistent theme in how industry and government plan, maintain and manage workforces, not least because routine, repeatable tasks are being coded out of human existence. Just think Telstra operator assistance.
Yet union officials featured heavily at Husic’s Digital and Tech Skills Roundtable.
Just a week ago Husic and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor paraded a memorandum of understanding between the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Tech Council of Australia “on a set of principles to support employment growth and skills development in the digital and technology fields across the economy.”
“I look forward to working with all those in the tech sector to reach our goals, including the Australian Computer Society and the Australian Information Industry Association, which have long championed the adoption of digital skills,” Husic said.
“Ideas expected to be presented as part of the Future Industries stream from the ACTU and Tech Council include modern digital apprenticeships; reforms to the skills, training and immigration systems that benefit employers and workers in the tech sector; and a focus on bringing in more women and under-represented groups,” Husic’s statement reads.
With the exception of Professionals Australia, unions have historically had little penetration into the local tech sector, where the Australian Computer Society has played the role of expert skills demand advisor through what was known as the Migration Occupations Demand List (MODL).
A list geared to permanent skilled migration, the MODL perennially frustrated industry because of its inherently reactive and retrospective posture as opposed to forward-looking workforce planning.
It also didn’t help that labour demand in the tech industry was highly cyclical, often geared to major iteration releases from the likes of Microsoft, SAP and Oracle.
Incoming chief executive of the AIIA Simon Bush says his group wants policymakers to recognise digital skills are now core to the economy, “with 87% of the Australian workforce requiring a broad digital skill in their role and the ICT sector now the third largest contributor to Australian GDP.”
“The AIIA would like to see both short, medium and long-term policies to ensure our economy has the tech skills needed to grow,” Bush told The Mandarin, citing visa processing as a key issue.
“The government can immediately improve visa processing times and change the way they are processed.
“For example, 485 graduate student visas should be able to be applied for in the final year of study, rather than waiting for completion. [This] would give the economy access to more of the 23,000 international ICT students that graduate each year,” Bush said, rather than having the current situation where  “so many return home due to the long wait times from the government to process these visas.”
Bush says the government needs to work with industry to assess which of the current “work-integrated learning” or “earn-and-learn” programs are working so that the ones that are can be supported with better wage subsidies so projects can “scale into national programs.”
“This could be through a national higher degree apprenticeships model,” Bush said, adding it was the skills pipeline that needed addressing.
“It is critical we work on longer-term structural issues and grow the pipeline of students into ICT vocational education and degrees.
“Government and industry need to come together to educate teachers (incentivise teachers through payments to undertake micro-courses on technology), educate students and parents on what a digital career looks like and ensure we have more than 9,000 ICT students complete studies each year.”
With the rest of industry also clamouring for more skilled migrants, Albanese and Husic will be under immense pressure to find immediate solutions come Thursday.

Minister to host industry roundtables ahead of jobs summit
Julian Bajkowski is a senior reporter for The Mandarin, and is based in Sydney
Tags: 457 Visa ABA ABS Accenture AIIA Alium Alpha Beta Adivisors Anna Bligh Anthony Albanese Atlassian Australian Information Industry Association Blackbird Bob Kinnaird Canva Ed Husic Jim Chalmers Kevin Rudd Kristina Keneally migration Mike Cannon Brookes outsourcing Skills Summit Tech Council of Australia Technology One Wisetech Global Xero
Get Premium Today
Already a subscriber? Login
By Julian Bajkowski
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Department of Customer Service
Australian-American Fulbright Commission
Community Services Directorate
Department of Education Skills and Employment
IP Australia

Get Premium now. Not ready? Get the free Daily newsletter.
Forgot password?

istanbul escort
beylikdüzü escort
avcılar escort
esenyurt escort
esenyurt escort
esenyurt escort
beylikdüzü escort
avcılar escort
beylikdüzü escort
marmaris escort
izmit escort
bodrum escort
antalya escort
antalya escort bayan