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The Federal Budget 2021: The Digital Economy Breakdown

The Federal Budget 2021: The Digital Economy Breakdown

about 1 year ago By Emily Harris
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In the unveiling of the federal budget last week, treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed that $1.2 billion would be invested into Australia’s digital infrastructure, in order to drive the country’s employment, wages, productivity growth and help secure Australia’s economic recovery overall[1](Australian Government. 2021). This investment is part of Australia’s ongoing ‘Digital Economy Strategy’; a plan to make Australia a ‘leading digital economy and society by 2030’. As part of this strategy, the $1.2 billion will be focused on eight key priorities covering education, support for small and medium enterprises, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, drone technologies, data sharing, support of government services and tax incentives – particularly those within the gaming industry. 

The biggest portion of this investment will be going towards streamlining and improving government services. A $200.1 million investment will go towards enhancing the myGov website and $301.8 million will go towards enabling the next generation My Health Record online platform to maintain and further develop our world-class healthcare system. 

 A further $111.3 million will be dedicated to accelerating the Consumer Data Right (CDR) across the country-starting with the banking and energy industry and then moving to telecommunications. The CDR will aim to give consumers greater control over their data and securely share data with a trusted third party. With the CDR in place, people and organisations will be able to monitor their finances, utilities and other services as well as compare and switch between different offerings more easily[2] (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. 2020). For this to be achieved, strong privacy protections will need to be built into the system and be enforced by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This highlights the growing need for cybersecurity and software engineer professionals to deliver this CDR goal.

The government also want to invest in emerging technologies, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remain competitive with digital economies worldwide. This includes a $124.1 million investment into AI research and industry capability as well as a National Artificial Intelligence Centre and a $100 million investment into building the digital skills of Australians, to help ensure continual innovation and development within the AI space. 

Digital Skills

While investment into emerging technologies and digital infrastructure is all very well and good, it will not make a difference if the country doesn’t have the adequate resources and skills to properly utilise these advancements. 

According to Australia’s Digital Pulse report compiled by Deloitte and the Australian Computing Society, Australia will need 60,000 new technology workers every year for the next five years to meet the demands of Australian businesses and overall society as we adapt to new technologies at a rapid rate[3]. The government have acknowledged this current skills shortage in the 2021-22 budget, announcing that they will be investing the following amounts to upskilling and growing the nation’s digital skills[4] (Australian Government, 2021):

  • $10.7 million for the Digital Skills Cadetship Trial to deliver work-based learning opportunities for in-demand digital jobs

  • $43.8 million for the Expansion of Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund to fund additional innovative projects to improve the quality and quantity of cybersecurity professionals in Australia 

  • $24.7 million towards the Next Generation AI Graduates Program which will be provided over six years in order to attract and train home-grown, job-ready AI specialists through national scholarship offerings 

  • $22.6 million towards the Next Generation Emerging Technology Graduates Program the will be rolled over six years and aim to provide over 200 national scholarships in emerging technologies 

What Does This Mean for The Digital Job Market?

The significance digital technology and upskilling is playing in the federal budget this year indicates the importance technology and digital skills will play in our economy moving forward. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, digital technology has become even more important to Australian businesses and the overall workforce. Especially over the last year when so many offices had to work remotely, we became dependant on technology to continue functioning at work; we needed cloud-based platforms like WeTransfer or Google Drive to share and store data in a central place, which in turn required greater cybersecurity. Colleagues had to rely more on project management and teleconferencing platforms to continue their projects and data management became a priority for many organisations as more and more key data was transferred online to be easily accessible. This reliance on technology is only going to grow as we move forward. Consequently, technology workers will be key in enabling the extra demand for digital infrastructure and services. The technology workforce in Australia grew by 33,400 workers in 2020, reaching a new peak of 805,525 workers. By 2026, Deloitte Access Economics forecasts there will be over 1.1 million technology workers in Australia which is only further supported by this year’s federal budget announcement as the government try and create a ‘leading digital economy’(Deloitte, 2021).

This presents exciting opportunities for those already working within the digital space, or those that possess digital skills – especially in relation to AI, data management and cybersecurity. With additional funding aimed at creating more jobs in this space, especially within the public sector as a big portion of initial funding will go towards streamlining and improving online government services- candidates with the necessary digital skills and experience will have a significant competitive advantage. 

Contact Us

For those looking for new opportunities within IT- especially within the public sector – and interested to see how the federal budget’s announcements will impact future job opportunities, you can reach out to our resident IT consultant Cheri Randell. Cheri can also provide more information about the IT jobs she currently has available or career advice for those just starting out within the IT space. You can contact her at the below: 


Phone: 0466 699 297

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