Now that the dust has settled on the 2021–22 federal Budget, here is a brief overview on what is in it for the tech sector.
While there were many positives in the federal Budget 2021, I will gladly support the more cautious and collective shrugging of the shoulders by the technology sector.
The technology industry received $1.2bn funding support — from this around $500m goes to two federal government projects. That leaves $700m for everything else. Considering how much everything costs in the tech sector, it is a relatively small funding pie.
Skills development is continuing to be pushed as a ‘user pays process’. The government has thrown its support behind the TAFE/VET sector, but universities have received approximately 10% less funding for offering the same number of places and delivering the same number of courses/programs. For many years universities have been using income from international students to subsidise fees for domestic (Australian) students. These revenues have taken a massive hit in the recent past.
The most recent modifications to the university funding model have resulted in a net reduction in the bottom line for the federal government. This occurred during 2020, and with fewer international students, 2021 is turning out to be harder for universities. With lack of funding, it is harder for universities to develop and support new programs to address the looming shortage.
On a different note, new technology continues to be outside of the Budget scope. Technologies such as AI, blockchain, IoT and others are evolving at a lightning-past pace but they continue to receive little, if any, support at national level. Quantum computing is another area that has a lot of potential but lacks funding and support.
Lastly, cybersecurity continues to be a concern for government and corporates, particularly where external international parties are identified as the originator of attacks/breaches. In 2017, the International Skills Council (ISC) said that the global workforce will likely fall 1.8 million individuals short of requirement in 2022. When you consider this with the lack of support for skill development, it is particularly concerning.
Overall, I give this Budget a 6 out of 10.