Recognising the significant disruption now occurring in the Australian economy driven by digital technologies, rapid growth in computing power and global online connectivity, the ACS in partnership with the Pearcey Foundation will host a Thought Leaders’ Summit, Reimagination, to reshape Australia’s digital future on 17 November 2015.

Australia faces an unprecedented period of change and disruption where traditional business models are threatened, established industries are in demise, new industries are emerging and our approach to workforce development and career planning must be re-thought.   The new digital world and the emergence of the “internet of things” means that business and governments operate in an environment where traditional thinking, the normal causal relationships and using evidence and data from yesteryear as a guide to the future must all be challenged.      

CEO of ACS, Andrew Johnson, said: “Almost every day now we see new reports, blogs, media releases, speeches, and commentary pieces highlighting the enormous challenges presented by the digital age. The common theme across all of these is that there will be significant job losses and business failures through automation and technology. But at the same time new possibilities and opportunities are opening up if Governments can get the policy settings right, businesses are alert to the need to reshape their models and their thinking, and individuals develop the skill sets which are critical for success in a digital world.  The ACS view is that there is now widespread agreement on these challenges. The next critical step is to discuss how as a nation we respond.  And the responses are required urgently.  The pace of change is dramatic and as a nation we must embrace the changes and adapt quickly. The Thought Leaders’ Summit in November provides an opportunity to have these important conversations.”     

The Summit will bring together thought leaders and digital disruptors to identify the priority issues to leverage disruption if we are to reshape Australia and prepare it for prosperity in a digital future. Key people from business, the IT Industry, Government, advocacy groups, research bodies, media as well as international experts are invited to participate. Incorporating Australia 3.0, the Summit will take the conversation to the next level to include future jobs.

Mr Johnson added, “A key focus of the discussions must be the need for a far greater focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in our education system.  STEM skills, including the ICT skills of computer coding and computational thinking, will be critical to Australia’s future. Given that some studies suggest 75% of the fastest growing occupations will require STEM and ICT skills, we need an education system that regards these competencies as foundation skills alongside numeracy and literacy. Our students need to move beyond knowing how to consume and use technology. They need to know how to create and build new products and services based on new technologies and the underlying computer coding.  But worryingly for Australia, commencements in tertiary ICT courses have fallen by over 50% in the last decade. This must be reversed.”

More information about the Summit will be released in the coming weeks.