The ACS Strategy 2017-2022 contains three pillars: Capacity (expanding the number of people working in the technology profession in Australia), Capability (lifting the skills of people working in the profession so that they secure higher paying jobs), and Catalyst (ACS being a conduit for sparking innovation).
Catalyst for ACS means the innovative creation and adoption of technology. It is also recognition that jobs growth in any modern economy comes from start-up businesses and small to medium enterprises.
The ACS Strategy 2017-2022 is based on a simple economic philosophy: if we have a growing tech profession and technology ecosystem in terms of capacity and capability; everyone benefits. Conversely, there are risks to the Australian economy and our nation’s standard of living if we experience a shrinking number of technology professionals.
The ACS Strategy 2017-2022 committed budget and resourcing to positively impact the national agenda by ACS providing thought leadership and commentary on technology trends and issues, with a view to being a catalyst for:
- leveraging global IP in Australia, not necessarily as a first adopter, but as a global benchmark for best of breed application
- illuminating competitiveness and productivity potential by providing access to examples of best practice technology usage
- engaging with sectors of key economic significance to Australia and highlighting examples of technology as a disruptive strategy in those segments
- conducting regular benchmarking and promoting the findings.
In creating an ACS capability to scan for future technology trends and disruptors, it was recognised that an ability was also needed to translate those trends into information that can be understood by decision makers in governments, business and society.
The need for this capability became heightened in 2016. Political and media commentary analysing the outcomes of the July 2016 Federal Election results cited anxiety about the future of work, and the potential for technology to displace jobs, as one issue of significance driving voter sentiment.
The ACS playbook had been largely influenced by the collaborative work with the Department of Employment, Data61, BCG Digital Ventures and ANZ bank with the publishing of Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce in January 2016. It was already understood that through history, technology has created more jobs than those it displaced. Like any transition however, benefits are not evenly spread and require proactive consideration by policy makers to achieve better outcomes.
In terms of skills trends, it was understood that people who work in highly structured environments might be particularly vulnerable to their jobs being automated, and that the increase of automated systems was raising the complexity of tasks and requiring higher skill levels for entry-level positions. Globalisation and income growth across Asia also meant Australians were likely to face increasing competition for higher paying jobs, as the number of people with tertiary education is rapidly growing globally.
Following the 2016 Federal election, innovation became a marginalised word. High tech, deep tech, the so called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and automation became words of alienation because they raised fears about potential job losses.
There remains an urgent need to galvanise our elected government representatives on the ingredients of a successful digital economy and provide them with insights into technology trends and successes that they can weave into the public policy narrative and development process while avoiding the fear that became apparent during 2016.
An example of ACS delivering on our Catalyst pillar was a bipartisan mission undertaken in November 2019 to Estonia, Finland and the United Kingdom with Trent Zimmerman MP, Member for North Sydney, Susan Templeman MP, Member for Macquarie, and Ed Husic MP, Member for Chifley.
European countries make up a significant percentage of the ‘cutting-edge’ category across business, technology, and data science. Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands are consistently cutting-edge in all three domains (https://hbr.org/2019/05/ranking-countries-and-industries-by-tech-data-and-business-skills).
The purpose of the mission was to showcase to our Members of Parliament the ‘best of breed’ technologies and innovation from economies considered world leaders and provide insights into public policy levers used in such economies.
Two days of briefings in Tallin included:
- the e-Residency program (an individual from anywhere in the world may be issued with a digital ID card. An e-resident can start an online company registered in Estonia, digitally sign and encrypt documents. Since 2014, over 60,000 e-residents have received ID cards, including many Australians);
- e-Estonia Briefing Centre (e-Governance, Cyber Security, Smart City, Healthcare, Education, Industry Digitalisation, Mobility, Startup environment);
- Guardtime (Keyless Signature Infrastructure);
- Ridango (account-based ticketing, contactless payment offerings, future of mobility, smart cities);
- Rubiks Digital (Innovation theory, Estonian Digital Infrastructure and Digital ID management);
- Wolf 3D avatars and VR/AR communication;
- Starship Technologies (robots for delivery over the last 4-miles);
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication (approaches to continuous development of e-government, approaches to privacy and security, open government, and interfaces with the private sector);
- Information System Authority;
- Proud Engineers;
- Statistics Estonia (data governance); and
- Startup Estonia (on successes, Accelerate Estonia and Startup Visa).
Helsinki included briefings with:
- Business Finland; Ramboll (sustainable cities, smart mobility and intelligent transportation to enhance the liveability of our cities);
- Teknologia 19;
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (innovation policy);
- Demos Helsinki;
- Finnish AI Accelerator;
- Finland’s 6G program;
- Finnish eBusiness and Software Association;
- Finnish Information Processing Association (TIVIA); and
- the State Security Networks.
Two highlights were a briefing at the Finnish Parliament with the Transport and Communications Committee involving over ten elected members in Finland, and a session with senior technology leaders from Rovio (maker of Angry Birds) on cross border regulations for application deployment.
Stopping in London on return to Australia included briefings from LendInvest (FinTech and UK Startup Ecosystem); the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation; Government Digital Service; Plexal Innovation precinct; Tech UK; Office for Artificial Intelligence; and the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association.
ACS’ approach to positively influencing the national agenda is to ensure we remain non-partisan, which is done by providing an evidence base from which our elected representatives can identify key initiatives and assess potential unintended consequences before formalising policy positions.
The evidence base published over the last two years has been extensive with 17 reports.
With the Australian Strategic Policy Institute we have delivered four reports Australia’s Offensive Cyber Capability, Deterrence in Cyber Space, Introducing Integrated E-Government In Australia, and Hacking Democracies - Cataloguing Cyber-Enabled Attacks On Elections.
Then there has been ACS’ Australia’s Digital Pulse 2018: Driving Australia's international ICT competitiveness and digital growth with Deloitte Access Economics and ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse 2019 – Booming today, but how can we sustain digital workforce growth, Australia’s IoT Opportunity: Driving Future Growth, Information Age Cyber Security Experts Series, Privacy In Data Sharing: A Guide For Business And Government, Artificial Intelligence: A Starter Guide To The Future Of Business, Blockchain Innovation: A Patent Analytics Report, Blockchain 2030 – A look at the Future of blockchain in Australia, Rockstar Aussie Founders Living in the US, 2019 Federal Elections Manifesto, Blockchain Challenges for Australia, Privacy-Preserving Data Sharing Frameworks, and Machine Learning Innovation.
To ensure issues from this evidence base are easily translated into information that can be understood by decision makers in governments, business and society, ACS has an open invitation for Members of Parliament to host roundtables with ACS members at our innovation hubs.
We have had great support from elected representatives participating in the Reimagination Thought Leaders Summit and Digital Disruptor Awards. Over the last two years in Melbourne, this has included The Hon Ed Husic MP, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Ms Terri Butler MP, the Hon Philip Dalidakis MLC, Mr David Southwick MP, and the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP.
The ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse remains strongly supported by elected Members of Parliament with those participating and attending launch events over 2018 and 2019 including the Hon Lauren Moss MLA, the Hon Emily Bourke MLC, the Hon Dr Richard Harvey MP, the Hon Justin Hanson MLC, the Hon Michael Ferguson MP, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Mr Jonathan O'Dea MP, Mr Trent Zimmerman MP, Mr Graham Perrett MP, the Hon Dave Kelly MLA, the Hon David Pisoni MP, and the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.
Launching of other ACS thought leadership reports have included participation and attendance over the last two years of Mr Trent Zimmerman MP, the Hon Victor Dominello MP, Ms Angie Bell MP, and the Hon Karen Andrews MP.
Policy Roundtables have been hosted by Ms Terri Butler MP, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, and Ms Clare O'Neil MP.
ACS has a Public Policy Reference Group and any member can forward suggestions and ideas to this Reference Group via firstname.lastname@example.org
The collective evidence base enables ACS to make submissions to public enquiries such as:
In the lead-up to the May 2019 Federal Election, ACS reviewed its collective knowledge base to release its 2019 Federal Election Manifesto 17 #gamechangers to ensure Australians attract higher paying jobs, calling out the tech policies that could change everything.