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ACS, the professional association for Australia’s technology sector, tonight welcomed the Federal Government’s 2021 Budget, observing the ICT sector will be essential to achieving the Treasurer’s aim to drive unemployment below 5%.

Rupert Grayston, ACS Chief Executive Officer, said: “Despite last year’s COVID disruptions, the ICT sector managed to deliver 33,000 new jobs, showing the importance of technology in keeping the Australian economy moving.

“We were very encouraged by the Treasurer’s statement that digital infrastructure and digital skills will be critical for the competitiveness of our economy.”

This year’s ACS Digital Pulse report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics highlighted the need to boost Australia’s digital skills base to meet the challenges of the next five years in its snapshot of the state of the nation’s ICT sector.

“A key finding to the report was Australia’s need to fill 60,000 technology roles every year for the next five years,’ continued Mr. Grayston. “So, ACS supports last week’s announcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology graduate program along with the Digital Skills Cadetship trial.”

“One important boost for the technology sector and the broader economy would be to boost female participation in the ICT sector. Digital Pulse found if Australia addresses the tech industry’s gender imbalance, the economy could see 5,000 more jobs and a boost of $1.8bn per year.”

“Further reforms to the R&D Tax Incentive and depreciation regime will also boost technology jobs while the aim of attracting more leading technology companies will also drive the sector.”

The budget’s $50 million investment in cybersecurity services in government, data centres and telecommunications networks were also well received by ACS along with the new national network of Artificial Intelligence Centres and the expansion of the cybersecurity innovation fund, however, the organisation flagged more needs to done to ensure agencies are hardened from online threats.