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A thriving digital economy

Attract talent, upskill our communities and businesses, create jobs and bridge the digital divide.

Objectives

Digital literacy and inclusion

Support the digital education of Victorians and create a digitally fit workforce to work across core industries and regions.

Why it matters

A digitally fit society is at the core of a thriving digital economy. Digital fitness is becoming a foundational requirement to social and economic participation and is critical in meeting the demands of the future job market.

Digital fitness is essential for employees wanting to participate in higher-value work but also for Victorian businesses and employers facing a growing skills shortage – estimated at 150,000 technology workers across Australia in 20211.

Victoria ranks fourth in digital inclusivity scores out of eight states and territories2. The divide is particularly felt across low-income families, older Victorians and rural communities. While a base level of digital literacy is a necessity for everyone, closing this gap is essential.

A step-change in expectations for Victorians to have digital skills occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic with nine out of ten businesses across a range of sectors3 embedding new technologies during the pandemic, highlighting how digital is a key part of the ‘new normal’.

How we will act on it

  • Uphold inclusivity and accessibility as key priorities when supporting the digital education of Victorians.
  • Provide everyone with the tools needed to confidently and safely use technology. This includes making appropriate training available and easily accessible to all Victorians regardless of their current level of digital knowledge.
  • Promote digital literacy from a young age to build future-ready skills and ensure the next generations are prepared for the demands of the future job market.
  • Make skill development opportunities inclusive to ensure older generations and special needs communities’ needs are better met.
  • Focus on closing critical skills gaps in our society through government platforms and programs that offer access to higher education.

A connected, thriving, regional and rural economy

Drive economic growth in regional and rural Victoria through digital initiatives that promote digital access and infrastructure.

Why it matters

A thriving regional and rural economy relies on fairer access to digital infrastructure in Victorian regions. However, gaps exist in access to digital infrastructure in areas which constrain the impacted regional businesses to fully participate in a digital economy. This creates barriers to workforce participation, challenges businesses who need to digitise to compete, and deters new businesses from locating to regional and rural Victoria.

The digital gap is further exacerbated by lower levels of digital literacy in regional and rural Victoria. Without these digital skills in the workforce, regional and rural businesses struggle to adopt digital technologies even with the right tools in place.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index reports there is an opportunity for Victoria to improve access and affordability of digital services4. Victoria also has an opportunity to expand its current ICT infrastructure initiatives to provide better connection across the state.

How we will act on it

  • Bridge the geographic digital divide by connecting and empowering regional and rural Victorians and organisations with the key infrastructure and support they need to do business across and beyond the state.
  • Build on previous initiatives to expand digital infrastructure, ensuring connectivity across the entire state.
  • Leverage previously successful initiatives and explore opportunities for government to act as a platform provider to connect regional businesses to metropolitan customers and resources.
  • Incentivise businesses to relocate and expand to regional and rural Victoria.

Seamless interactions with business and beyond

Improve procurement and making it easier to do business with the private sector and non-government organisations. Also making it easier to do work for government and on behalf of government.

Why it matters

Government procurement and partnering is a significant lever for stimulating the digital economy. Fully realising this potential relies on government being accessible and easy to do business with.

The lack of structures for repeated, effective partnerships with other organisations to jointly achieve government objectives present challenges in engaging productively with the private sector.

Digital platforms, which are the entry point into government procurement, can be difficult to engage with. Complex requirements for doing business with government can also be a significant barrier to organisations taking up key opportunities. Some organisations can find it too complex to procure business from the Victorian Government as it erodes the value of participating.

An OECD survey showed up to 88 per cent of countries have established a one-stop shop portal, mostly with no need for re-identification, to simplify interactions with government5.

This presents an opportunity for the Victorian Government to address the complexities of doing business with, and as a result boost the domestic economy and support local businesses.

How we will act on it

  • Improve the ability of Victorian businesses of all sizes to provide services to, and on behalf of, government by simplifying the processes involved.
  • Consider the Victorian Government digital procurement services from the perspective of a wider range of organisations at different scales.
  • Review and re-evaluate internal procurement processes and requirements to break down further barriers to collaboration.
  • Simplify the process of doing e-business with government by continuing to implement easier to use platforms that ensure digital is the preferred mode of engagement and meets businesses expectations.
  • Accelerate partnerships and collaboration with universities and the private sector to bring the right capability and expertise to government opportunities. Systematise this process to develop future partnerships more quickly.

Future-ready, resilient industries

Support key industry sectors to adopt digital technologies and build competitive, innovative Victorian industries that make an impact on the national and global stage.

Why it matters

Digital readiness is reflected across a range of factors such as technology infrastructure and adoption, human capital, ease of doing business, investment and the regulatory landscape.

All of these factors must be in place to enable Victorian businesses to thrive and have a competitive global edge.

Victoria ranks highly compared to other states in digital readiness. This is due its strong adoption of technology, an attractive environment for start-ups, and general liveability6.

Globally, Victoria has an opportunity to drive research, for greater digital innovation and to support businesses in digital upskilling.

Continued economic prosperity will rely on our local industries being resilient to future shocks, as experienced through the COVID-19 pandemic. Solid digital foundations are the key to this.

How we will act on it

  • Provide a supportive growth environment for key emerging industries to enable Victorian businesses to be competitive across the globe.
  • Foster new technologies, such as AI and robotics, through government policy and legislation to help industries stay ahead of the global market.
  • Continue to promote the digitisation of existing industries by incentivising research and development, providing data and platforms, supporting traditional industries in digital upskilling and helping Victorian businesses participate in global digital marketplaces.
  • Build on previous initiatives to provide reliable digital infrastructure across the state to lower the barriers to digitisation, especially in under- serviced areas of regional Victoria.

A magnet for talent and investment

Create an environment that attracts the best talent, locally and globally, and positions Victoria for investment.

Why it matters

For Victoria to become a thriving digital economy, we need to attract in-demand talent and investment from overseas as well as within Victoria.

Foreign investment and trading in Australia’s digital businesses is relatively low across a number of measures – for example, only two per cent of small to medium enterprises in Australia are exporters compared to 20 per cent in Korea and 16 per cent in Germany.7 With a proactive approach, Victoria has a significant opportunity to accelerate foreign direct investment, particularly in small to medium size digital businesses.

Australia is a highly sought-after destination for skilled migrants, ranking first amongst OECD countries for workers with a masters or doctoral degree and ranking 7th for entrepreneurs and 6th for university students8. Continuing to attract this talent will be key to closing the growing gap for technological skills.

Positioning Victoria as the ‘place to be’ in terms of investment and skilled migration is key for economic recovery and growth.

How we will act on it

  • Put Victoria on the global map for skills and investment by promoting the state as the ‘place to be’ in terms of building a career as a skilled worker, living well and making smart and sustainable investments.
  • Highlight the attractiveness of a career in Victoria by marketing our digital capabilities in selected industry sectors and emphasising our competitive advantage.
  • Continue to invest in sectors with leading capability – such as AgTech and EdTech – to enhance our global reputation and attract more talent and investment.
  • Strengthen our reputation as a world leading innovation hub by moving towards an adaptive regulatory environment that supports innovation.

Key enablers

  • We will establish a regulatory environment that fosters globally competitive innovation and makes business compliance easier. Our policies will support investment in Victorian businesses and deliver wider digital upskilling.

  • We will set up quicker, simpler processes for tendering, procuring and mobilising work with the Victorian Government as well as investing in start-ups, scale-ups and research and development initiatives. We will invest in digital literacy across the community.

  • We will take a coordinated whole of Victorian Government approach to engaging with industry and supporting the scaling up of emerging Victorian small-to-medium- enterprises. We will adopt a more innovative mindset and methodology to these partnerships.

  • We will make more datasets available to the public and enable Victorian businesses to derive more value from public data. In partnership with the private sector, we will develop digital copies of our state’s physical assets and ecosystems to empower all Victorians to make smarter choices about our future.

  • We will build secure, protected digital infrastructure to give Victorians confidence in transacting digitally with government and its partners.

  • We will deliver simpler, streamlined technology platforms for interacting with government, informed by the experience of businesses. We will renew our focus on Victorian businesses acting as suppliers for technology and implementing new digital platforms.

Endnotes

1 Ready, Set, Upskill - Effective Training for the Jobs of Tomorrow, RMIT, 2021

2 ‘Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2020’, RMIT, Swinburne, Telstra, 2020

3 How technology strengthened Australian business during COVID and beyond, Microsoft, 2020

4 ‘Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2020’, RMIT, Swinburne, Telstra, 2020

5 OECD Digital Government Index (DGI), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019

6 ‘Australian Digital Readiness Index 2018 - Digital Dividend or Digital Divide?’, Cisco, 2018

7 Digital Australia - An Economic And Trade Agenda, Brookings, 2019

8 ‘Migration Policy Debates - How do OECD countries compare in their attractiveness for talented migrants?’, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019

Reviewed 19 November 2021

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