As the electoral clock ticks to the 21 May federal election, the Coalition government has pledged it will use a potential fourth term to nurture conditions within Australia’s technology sector to encourage more female workers to take up tech jobs.
With statistics indicating an overwhelming male dominance in the tech sector, with current estimates putting female occupancy at only 2 to 29 per cent, the Coalition has pledged to collaborate with the industry to bolster female participation to at least 40 per cent by 2030.
It’s an ambitious plan from the Morrison government, coming off the back of the recent 2022-23 annual budget where it pledged $3.9 million to help women make a mid-career transition into the tech workforce.
The budget also expanded the Future Female Entrepreneurs Program and offered small businesses tax incentives to upskill and train their employees through the Skills and Training Boost, valued at $550 million.
Should the government win the election, it announced the establishment of a new ‘Tech Workforce Roundtable’, intended to unite the government with industry and education sectors to boost Australia’s efforts to grow the tech workforce and meet the growing digital skills demand.
Minister for the Digital Economy and Women’s Economic Security, Senator Jane Hume, said the Digital Economy Strategy is a key part of the Coalition’s plan to create 1.3 million jobs over the next five years, including 450,000 jobs in regional Australia.
“Every business is now a digital business, which is why our plan for the digital economy is such an important part of our plan for a strong economy,” Senator Hume said.
Promoting the government’s track record, Senator Hume said the new target for women in the tech workforce builds on the government’s record of increasing female workforce participation to “record highs and narrowing the gender pay gap to record lows”.
“Australians from all walks of life are taking up tech jobs and we want to see more Australian women involved in this rapidly growing and well-paid part of the workforce,” Senator Hume said.
The Tech Workforce Roundtable will be jointly chaired by the Ministers for the Digital Economy and Skills, with the aim of holding the first meeting soon after the election. The Tech Council, the National Skills Commissioner, Digital Skills Organisation and other participants drawn from industry and education sectors will be invited to join.
Earlier this year, industry peak body the Technology Council of Australia applauded the government’s initial budget announcement with the chief executive officer Kate Pounder citing the body’s own research which suggested that women are most likely to enter tech jobs between the age of 25 and 30 years old.
“This initiative represents an important initial contribution to help more women make that transition, given only one in four tech workers are women,” Ms Pounder said.
“Getting more women into tech jobs is a great deal for women as tech jobs are amongst the best paid, most secure and most flexible in the country. The gender pay gap is also half that of other high-paying jobs.”
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