Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg officially launched ACS Australia’s Digitial Pulse 2019 last Thursday evening.

The Melbourne Innovation Hub was packed with technologists who heard the Treasurer speak of growing demand for more tech workers.

“You’re going to need an extra 100,000 technology workers by 2024. That’s going to take the technology workforce to some 800,000 people,” Frydenberg said.

“These are high paying jobs; they are important jobs and the growth in the technology workforce is very important.”

Frydenberg spoke of the ways technology is disrupting a number of sectors including energy, finance, health, and transport.

“Technology changes with us,” he said.

“It’s more rapid than ever before, its scope and its nature is different than what we’ve seen in previous revolutions.

“And there are some challenges – we’ve got to be very cognisant of that – but if we all remember the values that drive us, the things that are important to us and ultimately we’re focused on the consumer and the public, then we can use this technology revolution for good.”

On the night, Frydenberg also officially opened the Melbourne Innovation Hub and was presented with the gift of a large tennis racquet – a reference to his pursuit of a professional tennis career in the 1990s.

Produced in partnership with Deloitte Access Economics, Digital Pulse is an annual snapshot of Australia’s IT sector.

John O’Mahony, partner with Deloitte, said Digital Pulse was succeeding as a conversation starter.

“The agenda of this report has always been to take technology out of the IT department, out of individual portfolios, and into the mainstream economic debate.”

The report highlighted a need for another 100,000 tech workers in Australia by 2024, which O’Mahony sees as a wake-up call to push for further development of our native workforce.

“It’s wonderful that Australia has welcomed so many people from overseas to assist with the growth of our digital workforce,” O’Mahony said.

“That’s okay for this year and next year but over the next five or ten years we really are missing an opportunity if we aren’t encouraging our young people – especially young women – to a technology future.”

ACS CEO Andrew Johnson (L) and ACS President Yohan Ramasundara (R) presented Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (centre) with a novelty tennis racquet.

Three stand-out policy areas were identified in the report: skills development, improving the start-up ecosystem, and boosting tech investments.

CEO of ACS, Andrew Johnson, used the launch as an opportunity to pitch a policy idea to the Treasurer.

“Capital today is highly mobile and globally mobile,” Johnson said.

“We need to make it more attractive to keep growing some of our capital here and that would in fact offer a multiplier effect.”

He pointed out how the Seed Enterprise Innovation Scheme in the UK offers greater benefits to tech investors than Australia’s Early Stage Innovation Company Scheme.

“The English, leading into Brexit, they need friends – and we can be friendly,” Johnson said.

“We could argue that UK investors who put money through their scheme should continue to get those tax breaks if it comes through to Australian companies.

“Knowledge and technology transfer back to the UK economy is very valuable. I reckon that’s a winner.

“I reckon we know who can push that, too.”