As Western Australia gears up to head to the polls on March 11, Information Age asks both sides of politics to outline their ICT agenda.

This week, we hear from Hon Kate Doust MLC, Shadow Minister for Information Communications Technology, from the Labor Party:

Western Australia does not have an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strategy or apparent ministerial responsibility for IT.

WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan has said Labor would address the Barnett Government's lack of commitment to ICT by appointing the State's first dedicated Minister.

A Minister for Innovation and Information and Communications Technology will provide the coordination urgently needed in this sector with the support of a dedicated Innovation Office.

This will facilitate the creation of more jobs and harness the power of ICT to create a more efficient regulatory system.

What Western Australia can offer ICT professionals

Western Australia is attractive for talented and experienced tech experts and we offer one of the best lifestyles in the world with sunshine, endless blue skies, white sandy beaches and easy-going lifestyle.

The resources sector has been a major driver of new technologies and research expertise in the regions for many years. As this sector transitions to an operational phase, it is important that we retain the technology and specialist skills to drive new industries in regional WA.

WA Labor supports, in principal, the application of Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA)* across the public sector.

Being an appropriate vehicle to assist in decision making around areas such as resource planning, recruitment, remuneration and training, WA Labor will investigate and consult as to how SFIA could be better applied across the public sector.

Given the downturn in the mining sector, SFIA would be a useful tool to assist in the skills recognition for employees transitioning from a different type of work to one with a more ICT focus to assist with job classification and remuneration and training requirements.

The $14.5 million investment in a New Industries Fund to support and accelerate new and emerging business will attract talent to WA. This investment will generate jobs in a diverse range of industries and provide investment opportunities for these new companies

Teaching ICT in schools

Enhancing ICT capacity and awareness in the education system is important. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines invariably involve ICT and computing skills.

Business and industry have advocated strongly for greater emphasis on STEM on the basis of their expected future demand for these skills.

Yet Western Australia doesn’t have a comprehensive STEM strategy.

WA Labor’s STEM Strategy will initially map Western Australia’s STEM workforce, highlighting strengths and gaps in skills and expertise. It will then identify STEM growth industries with a vision to grow the local workforce.

A commitment to STEM will be a key focus of a Labor Government. We will identify ways of promoting the importance of the key STEM skills of problem solving, critical thinking and innovation to employers, educators, parents and students.

As Western Australia moves forward, digital proficiency will be a foundation skill, as important as reading and numeracy. In a global economy, we need to position kids today to win the jobs of the future.

We will work with the Commonwealth Government to introduce coding activities into the WA curriculum and will engage with teachers across the State and establish practical funding to support the integration of coding into their teaching.

What Labor will do for the ICT sector

  1. Develop a Cybersecurity state strategy for the public sector, improve community and small business education and awareness of cybercrime and issues.
  2. Enhance digital literacy for small business
  3. Increase the number of women in ICT professions
  4. Look at ways to assist digital literacy in Indigenous communities
  5. Lobby the Federal Government to finalise rollout of the NBN in WA.

*SFIA is a competency framework that describes the skills needed to fulfil roles within the ICT sector.

Next week: the Hon Bill Marmion, Minister for Innovation, outlines the Liberal Party’s agenda for ICT in Western Australia.