As Victoria prepares to head to the polls on 29 November, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) has called for the establishment of a 'Digital Ministerial Advisory Council' to promote digital economy initiatives in the state.
The establishment of the body, which would comprise both IT consumers and suppliers, forms part of a set of five recommendations from the ACS that the organisation says are necessary to promote growth of the digital economy in Victoria and Australia.
One priority for the advisory council would be auditing state and federal digital assistance program to identify gaps and overlap, the ACS's position paper states.
The organisation has also suggested an 'exchange program' for industry and government staff.
"Over many years the Victorian economy has been undergoing structural reform with a greater emphasis now needing to be placed on digital skills and knowledge," said Michelle Beveridge, the chairperson of the ACS in Victoria.
"Like our regional partners, we must recognise that the digital economy has become the key driver of the economy, and we need the Victorian government to support this vital growth area."
The organisation has also proposed action to increase the number digital skills base in the state through a compulsory digital technologies curriculum that begins in prep and extends to Year 10 as well as "targeted professional development of teachers in ICT and digital technologies, and ongoing support for the Digital Careers program aimed at inspiring students to pursue careers as digital professionals".
"As the impact of technology on our work and lives continues to increase, so must governments place a higher priority on digital literacy and, in particular, growing our national pool of skilled professionals," Beveridge said.
"The digital professional workforce is now being recognised globally as the key ingredient to sustaining a prosperous, modern economy"
The other ACS priorities are programs to improve the digital literacy for businesses and not-for-profit organisations, improved collection of digital economy data to be used as the basis for digital-related strategies, and a heightened focus on open data by the incoming state government.
"The ACS believes that if these five key issues are not addressed as priorities, there is a real danger that the digital economy will suffer, and the health of the Victorian economy and broader Australian economy with it," Beveridge said.