A Sunshine Coast-first advocacy group says our region is not keeping pace with the surge in Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) jobs – and this is something we must rectify.
Sunshine Coast Business Council (SCBC) Chair Sandy Zubrinich said a new body had been created with support from local councils, educational institutions and private enterprise, who acknowledged the need for strong leadership to drive growth in the sector.
“Whilst the number of ICT jobs in Australia has been growing faster than many other sectors over the past five years, this trend has not been reflected here on the Sunshine Coast,” Ms Zubrinich said.
“This was one of the primary reasons the SCBC decided to focus on this industry two years ago, following the launch of one of the region’s most significant pieces of communications infrastructure, the international broadband submarine cable into Maroochydore.
“This cable gives us the fastest international connection point from Queensland and east Australia to Asia and a significant competitive advantage for the moment.
“This coupled with a number of successful ICT businesses located here on the Coast — some who deliver world-class services across Australia and internationally in partnership with some of the most recognisable global brands — positions us well to drive sector growth and create more ICT jobs and careers in the region.
“However, let’s be very clear, the only way we will achieve this growth is if all tiers of government and the business community commit to prioritising our local providers when awarding ICT contracts.
“We have much of the capability in the region, so the industry group’s priority will be to advocate for a ‘buy local’ approach when it comes to ICT services.”
Chair of the newly established ICT regional industry group and Entag CEO, Kris Carver, said the body would be tasked with providing leadership on future technology requirements and helping the sector grow.
He said the goal was to create new jobs to both attract qualified and experienced operators and retain ICT graduates in the region.
“This means delivering an annual job growth rate of more than 3.1% year-on-year for the next five years, which we feel confident is achievable providing regional government and enterprise supports us with their business,” Mr Carver said.
“Our priority as a group is to strengthen our region’s credibility as a provider of professional ICT services.
“We have numerous organisations leading the way from a technology point of view, so our ability to consolidate and ensure their stories are heard is critical to the region’s long term success.
“We really want to put the Sunshine Coast on the map as a region that not only provides quality ICT solutions, but also ensures we are forward thinking, building our own local talent and attracting some of the best in our profession to relocate to the region to take advantage of the world-class infrastructure and strong industry presence.”
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The group has hosted its first meeting to vote on the inaugural committee of nine members and saw Mr Carver appointed as chair.
Other committee members include James Blackmore, Legal Business Partner Telstra; Jason Garland, Director Secure Access; Raleen Kaesehagen, representing Peregian Digital Hub; Dr. Simon Kaplan, CEO The Urban Institute; Angela Lisle, Faculty Director TAFE Qld East Coast; Dr. Rania Shibl, Deputy Head of School (Science, Technology & Engineering) USC; Richard Turnbull, Director Legion Telecom; and Robb Webb, Owner Absolute IT. Bridget Murphy who is the SCBC Treasurer will be a non-voting member of the Committee for the first 12 months.
What is the ICT industry?
The ICT industry covers all organisations that deliver services in the information, communications and technology sphere. We have a relatively immature IT industry in some capability areas, such as robotics, AI, cyber security and data analytics, yet a reasonably mature industry regionally in the more traditional IT services and communications sector.
What kinds of businesses do we currently have in the sector?
There are large international and national ICT businesses operating in the region and medium and small state and regional businesses providing a broad range of services. Some of these deliver IT and communications infrastructure and services, while others are covering areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud services, managed IT services, data, analytics, applications development, transformative digital technologies and advisory services and certification and accreditation training. There are also the innovation and start-up hubs, such as Peregian Digital Hub and Silicon Coast, that play an important role. We have regional business who are operating internationally, in preference to regionally, and we want to address this going forward. There are also a number of organisations that aren’t your traditional IT businesses, but are leading the way in the use of technology to transform their organisations, such as Youi, Helimods and Ambrose Building.
What jobs does the industry offer?
ICT is a fast-changing environment and the jobs of today will evolve quickly and, of course, there will be jobs within a few years that we haven’t even dreamt of in the region yet! Here are some examples of the current roles:
- Deep technology with Artificial Intelligence (AI), data science and analytics, gaming and Block Chain technology.
- Technical design with key technology ecosystems such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.
- Transformation of businesses and communities through the use of technology.
- Complex project management for the end-to-end delivery of technology solutions.
For more information on the Sunshine Coast Business Council and membership enquiries, visit www.scbusinesscouncil.com.au.