OzTech: Federal budget; Australia’s cadetship trial; Gender pay gap up to 37%; NextDC waits approval for Darwin data centre

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Australia’s federal budget

The Australia federal government announced the budget for the next fiscal year 2022-2023. It has several items related to tech and ICT.

Skills and training

One announcement was on skills and training, but there are different values being discussed and the technology industry itself seems confused about what is what and where it will go. So far, this is what we understand may have an impact in the Australian tech industry:

  • There is a $12 billion investment over five years for the National Skills Agreement (NSA), which is yet to be agreed on.
  • There is an additional $3.7 billion investment to support the NSA, which intends to bring state and territories together supporting vocational education and training.
  • There is also a $4 billion investment over five years to introduce a new Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System (AAIS), designed to increase commencements and completions in priority occupations and support employers around Australia to fill skill shortages.
  • $3.9 million will go into a program to support women to develop and use their digital skills and, in partnership with industry, provide free tailored online digital training to pursue a mid-career transition into the “tech workforce”.
  • There are other incentives such as $48.5 million to further support JobTrainer.

Tax deduction sounds too good to be true

Delivering the budget, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that, as of 29 March 2022, “for every hundred dollars a small business spends on training their employees, they will get a $120 tax deduction”. The same incentive applies to small businesses that spend on digital technologies like cloud computing, e-invoicing, cybersecurity, and web design. This incentive will apply to those investing up to $100,000 per year.

$9.9 billion investment on cybersecurity

The Australia federal government announced a $9.9 billion investment in cybersecurity for the next 10 years, which is set to create 1,900 jobs including data analysts, programmers, and software engineers.

This investment will deliver the resilience, effects, defence, space, intelligence, cyber and enablers (REDSPICE) package to enhance the offensive and defensive cyber and intelligence capabilities of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

$10.7 million goes into IT cadetship trial

MEGT Australia, Goanna Solutions, the Creative Co-operation, and Community Corporate will share $10.7 million from the Australia federal government’s Digital Skills Cadetship Trial.

The program will focus on skills in demand such as cybersecurity, data analytics, and cloud computing and priority will be given to those changing careers, those that have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and those returning to the workforce, particularly women.

The four organisations will trial a different approach to upskill people for digital roles over a four- to-six-month period. Cadetships will blend formal training with on-the-job learning and mentoring. Cadets will put their newly acquired digital skills into practice with employers that will be matched with the tech talent they need.

Cadetship projects will test a range of training strategies using accredited and nonaccredited vocational education and training, as well as industry-recognised courses offered by global technology companies. The goal of the trial is to identify opportunities to enhance Australia’s national education and training system.

Here is what each organisation has proposed:

  • In partnership with the Institute of Applied Technology in Digital Tech, Prodigy Learning, and Women in Technology, and supported by Microsoft Australia, MEGT (Australia) will help women across Australia begin a career in data analytics, cloud computing, or cybersecurity using Microsoft certifications and specialist microcredentials.
  • Goanna Solutions, an Aboriginal-owned and -operated tech education-to-employment and Registered Training Organisation specialising in ICT, will provide accredited vocational education and training and industry-recognised vendor training across various digital career pathways. The project will target diverse groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, older career changers, and regionally based participants.
  • The Creative Co-operation will provide structured, industry-recognised digital skills training with a focus on cultural and linguistically diverse women and youth.
  • Community Corporate will provide refugees and humanitarian migrants with digital skills training in cloud computing using ServiceNow qualifications and on-the-job placements with large employers.

Gender pay gap for digital work can be as high as 37%

A new report has found structural barriers to women’s workforce participation and fair payment are present in digital work. The “Gendered Dimensions of Digital Platform Work — Review of the Literature and New Findings” was commissioned by the Victoria government in June 2021 and delivered by the Queensland University of Technology.

The report confirmed findings of previous reports that women earn significantly less than men, which according to the report in gig-economy roles can vary between 10% and 37% less. For the same work, on average men earned $2.67 per hour more than women.

The state government will consult with workers and unions, businesses and industry representatives, and academics to introduce standards that promote transparency and fair conduct by hiring platforms and to improve outcomes for nonemployee on-demand workers, while not compromising on fairness or stifling innovation and entrepreneurship.

NextDC Darwin data centre still waits for approval

NextDC is waiting for development approval to what expects will be an 8MW data centre located in Darwin’s central business district. In November 2021, the company announced it had been selected by the Northern Territory government to build the data centre.

The plan is to build the D1 data centre in the city’s central business district next to a major electricity substation, as well as near critical telecommunications, utilities, public infrastructure, and the Charles Darwin University campus.

NextDC revealed plans for the space to accommodate an innovation centre, a collaboration hub that will promote research, development, and new incubator programs, as well as a mission-critical operations space.

Vocus is the facility anchor tenant and will provide high-capacity connectivity to D1 on its Terabit Territory fibre network.

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