The members of the AEC made their point of view heard on the priorities of the next federal government following the call for opinions on an Election Manifesto before the next election.
Ahead of the last two elections, the ACS released its political wishlist for federal parties. In 2019, the Manifesto of game changers outlined 17 measures to boost Australia’s digital economy.
One of the strong messages from survey respondents was that there were too many of the 17 recommendations in the 2019 manifesto, with most suggesting between eight and ten as more manageable for the next election.
Respondents to the survey had a wide range of views on the issue of gender disparity in the ICT industry as the main issue facing the country’s tech sector, a topic highlighted by respondents. successive reports from ACS Digital Pulse.
This year’s Digital Pulse warned that the chronic gender imbalance in the ICT sector threatens to hold the economy at $ 11 billion worth over the next two decades, while stressing that achieving parity gender could boost the employment of 5,000 new workers per year and help meet forecasted manpower shortages of 60,000 technicians.
Also at the top of the comments was a proposal to encourage elementary school students to study STEM subjects. Addressing the reluctance of younger students to study technology-related subjects is seen as a key way to contribute to the continuing shortage of ICT workforce in the country.
Last May, the federal government’s STEM Equity Monitor 2021, a national data report on the participation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), surveyed 3,000 Australians aged from 12 to 25 years old.
It found that 75% of girls ages 12 to 17 were not really interested in STEM-related subjects, while a similar proportion said they didn’t see areas that match their professional ambitions. Among boys, the results were 52% and 57%, indicating that most Australian students of both sexes do not see a future in ICT, science or engineering.
Addressing the reluctance of young people to study STEM subjects could address both the gender imbalance and the chronic and long-term shortage of tech workers in the country.
The third key area raised by respondents was the creation of a permanent agency based on the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology to provide Parliament with sound and impartial policy advice on technological issues. Such an office would have an important role given the rapid turnover of industry ministers in recent years.
Other prominent proposals include a program to strengthen the digital skills of the wider workforce, refine the national cybersecurity strategy and create a regional digital infrastructure plan.
The results of the survey will now form the basis of a draft document to be submitted to the AEC Public Policy Reference Group before being considered by the Management Committee.
Subject to the election schedule, the election manifesto is expected to be released at the ACS Reimagination conference in February.