CeBIT 2011: ACS praises Digital Economy strategy, calls for emphasis on education

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has called for increased emphasis on education and skills and the development of more pilot programs in response to the Federal Government’s release of its Digital Economy strategy.

Speaking at the CeBIT event in Sydney, ACS president, Anthony Wong, said the ICT sector is responsible for significant ongoing investment and accounts for almost 5 per cent of Australia’s GDP.

“An ICT blueprint is vital to ensure investment in this critical infrastructure meets desired outcomes and that the broadband pipe is leveraged to deliver e-services and develop a competitive e-economy,” he said.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the government will set aside $96.2 million over the next four years to boost Australia’s digital economy. Key to the strategy is the development of eight goals, underpinned by the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Seephotos and all the action from the event.

“Participating in a digital economy is not just about having a website,” Wong said. “It is about the quantity and quality of e-commerce and online transactions.

“We need more Australians to get active online. Education and skills are key to ensuring that people can participate and leverage the digital economy opportunities.”

The ACS wants more development of pilot programs for education such as the EduONE — Education Our New England project.

“Highly skilled ICT professionals are the foundations of the digital economy,” Wong said. “The ACS believes more focus is required on ICT education to ensure skills shortages do not continue to hold the country back. As ICT employment continues to increase, its important students are not left behind in this important area of education.

“The two elements which are vital to ensuring the digital economy is secure and reliable are the establishment of security frameworks, and the provision of an appropriate number of skilled ICT professionals who are certified,” said Mr Wong.

He also welcomed the investment of $23.8m for a ‘digital communities’ initiative to establish 40 regional ICT hubs, and the $12.4 million for a ‘digital enterprises’ initiative to assist small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations.

Wong talked up investments in e-health services and smart technology during his presentation at the CeBIT’s Cloud Computing conference, singling out the Cloud as an example of the potential benefits of the NBN.

“Australia has traditionally relied on the resources and agriculture industries to stimulate economic growth. The DE Strategy and its frameworks are a necessity to ensure that the ICT industry fulfills its potential to become the backbone of our economy. Australia has the opportunity to export e-services to the world — a truly significant opportunity.”

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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