Why is it even a contest? Roads and Rail vs Tech and Digital.

It makes us feel we’re a nation on the move seeing the worker bees in High Vis vests bringing impressive infrastructure spending to life. Cities and populations are growing and we need improved roads and rail services. Great. But what happens at the end of the line?

Building roads and rail doesn’t, in and of itself, add to our GDP. It creates jobs for now, on the tax payer’s dime, filtered through major construction companies. It’s a centuries old model that makes sense and is understood by the electorate as a necessary and valuable addition to our cities and regional centres.

But all this visible ‘concrete’ activity means we risk a drift into the ‘also-rans’ of world economies if our Federal and State Governments don’t get more critical workforce planning sorted. We’re far from being known as global leaders in technology and digital. Consider the following recent observations:

  • John Durie in The Australian wrote that Israel’s ‘start-up nation’ success is built in part on a model of generous government incentives.
  • What should an accountant say to a successful early stage start-up who asks the question, “Why don’t we move to Singapore, where the tax incentives are very attractive?”
  • At the Rampersand Investor briefing on November 11th, two of the growing tech businesses lamented the lack of government grants and incentives, in spite of the fact that they are the future big employers governments need to realise their ‘jobs jobs jobs’ rhetoric.  
  • In the next three years alone the Robotic Data Automation Services sector is forecast to grow by $2B globally (HFS Research, 2018).  Where is Australia in this growth?
  • Ginnie Rometty, IBM’s CEO says we need to change our approach to hiring, as 100% of jobs will change in the future and AI is coming at us fast.
  • How will Australia attract more global tech players to our shores if our tech and digital talent has to go abroad to build their own stellar careers?

The cry of Jobs jobs jobs has become a hollow call out if we don’t Work work work on being future ready. Industry can’t do it alone, universities can’t do it alone. This requires high level resolve at a government level to create an environment to supercharge the virtual traffic routes of tomorrow. And if that means employer and employee incentives and grants, the short-term costs will be Australia’s gain in the longer term.

Am I the only Jo Public who is alarmed by our collective Federal and State Governments’ lack of vision?

Anita Ziemer

Anita Ziemer is Executive Director of Slade Group and a Director of The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas. In a career spanning roles working in government, not-for-profit, public company and the SME sector, Anita has a broad view of the landscape of Australians at work. She was Chairman of Melbourne Girls Grammar School, a Director of Kidspot through to its sale to News Ltd, and founding director of nexthire. She has B.Applied Science and an Adv Dip Screenwriting. She was Associate Producer of Summer Coda a 2010 Australian Indie feature film.

Anita has a major interest in serving the community and has held the following pro bono positions:

  • Melbourne Girls Grammar, School Council (Chairman 2011) 2009-2015
  • Melbourne Grammar School, Council’s Marketing Sub-Committee 2005-2009
  • Member, St Paul’s Restoration and Renewal Appeal 2003-2004
  • Board Member, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia 2002-2010
  • Co-education Chair, YPO/WPO 1994, 2001-2002
  • Council Member, Christ Church Grammar School 1995-2002
Anita Ziemer
Executive Director
Slade Group
Level 10, 333 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100
aziemer@sladegroup.com.au
sladegroup.com.au

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