Rattles and pacifiers don’t make the cut for kids these days. In an era of smart phones, young and old are hooked to their devices. But what is often overlooked is the vulnerabilities users are unknowingly exposed to.
OpenGov Asia had an opportunity to interview Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director APAC Kaspersky Lab, and Vitaly Kamluk, Director of GReAT (Global Research and Analysis Team) APAC Kaspersky Lab. In our last chat with Stephan, he commented on the changing cybersecurity landscape in APAC. This time, we chat about how their company is engaging in cybersecurity education in both Singapore and across the region.
Making Cybersecurity Education a Priority
According to their analysis, APAC has a mixed level of cybersecurity awareness level. Higher income countries like Singapore and Australia, are more mature. Necessary legislation and cybersecurity bills are in place to protect government organisations, enterprises and the average citizen. However, Stephan notes that emerging economies in the region do not necessarily demonstrate equal levels of expertise in charting a cybersecurity strategy.
A generally younger demographic and type of device used and adds to the complexity. A young populous, tech savvy nation multiplies the spread of infection in terms of speed and quantity.
Stephan shared, “Millennials have access to fast internet connection – 4G…In these emerging countries, the use of Android is more popular because it is cheaper than an iOS device. If these iOS devices are not secured, because it is an open system, then they can be very vulnerable. This younger generation also has a lack of cybersecurity awareness. The combination of a lack of cybersecurity awareness with the lack of the right security infrastructure, leads to huge vulnerabilities for these types of countries.”
Although the younger generation in these countries might be more educated, Stephan warns against assuming a link to cybersecurity awareness. The link is tenuous. Hence, governments and educators must actively seek new avenues to raise awareness.
“Millennials should be educated when it comes to cybersecurity. However, the level of awareness presently is not at where it should be,” explained Stephan.
The Singapore government too is not quick to assume. Across the various levels of education, educators are creating opportunities for students to learn about cyberthreats.
Kaspersky Lab has been working closely with many universities and polytechnics in Singapore on various projects.
At the secondary level, Catholic High School and Anderson Secondary School have engaged Kaspersky Lab to conduct career and cyber wellness talks for their students. Vitaly also shared that a secondary school in Singapore had approached Kaspersky Lan to verify their school’s cybersecurity program. At first glance, he was surprised at how comprehensive was. Later, he learnt that they had engaged another cybersecurity vendor to develop the program but had wanted to crosscheck.
Nonetheless, Vitaly is supportive of such initiatives. He said, “That’s the way to go – to approach private sector vendors to help with the [cybersecurity] curriculum.”
Additionally, with all the free study material available online, there is no reason why educators are hindered from teaching students good cyber hygiene practices.
Cybersecurity is No Child’s Play
The latest demographic they are zooming in on, however, are those who are still in primary school.
In a recent initiative, the company launched a storybook initiative to educate primary school children and their families on internet safety. The book is titled ‘Kasper, Sky and the Green Bear’.
According to Stephan, it is not too extreme to educate children at such a tender age. Since many already own their personal mobile device, they could easy fall prey to malware scams or offer personal information in return for free games or music. Thus, Stephan opines, “If you start at secondary school, you’ve lost them already.”
What’s more, if children are well informed about cyberthreats, they can be evangelists in their homes on good cyber hygiene habits. Elders who might not be aware of online scams could learn a thing or two from the young ones. This revolutionises how education is traditionally thought about.
For more tech savvy parents, this is what Stephan advises, “You should educate on a basic level – on what kinds of threats are out there, what they should click, what they should not click. If they’re using a smart phone already, what should they do with that…Really just raising awareness that it’s dangerous out there. When they’re surfing the web and they do not have a basic understanding of certain behaviours and threats, it could be dangerous for them and the family.”
“Awareness needs to be raised at the student level, but we are also raising awareness among the parents…Most of the parents are completely helpless. They know they’re kids are online, they have their smart phones already, and are alone with computers in their rooms, yet they don’t know what they are doing.”
He advised, “Parents need to know what kind of language they should use when they talk to their kids, in order to raise awareness. But they also need to know what kinds of technologies are available out there to help them.”
In a stirring address at the Emerging Enterprise Awards (EEA) 2023, Senior Minister of State Tan Kiat How underscored the pivotal role of continuous learning and skills acquisition in navigating the dynamic landscape of the modern world.
Emphasising that education should be viewed as a lifelong journey, extending beyond formal academic years, he articulated the need for individuals to adapt to the evolving demands of an ever-changing workplace.
Acknowledging the government’s commitment to supporting Singaporeans in this quest for perpetual learning, Tan Kiat How also appealed to business owners and industry leaders to create an enabling environment for employees to upgrade their skills. He highlighted the Forward Singapore report, a comprehensive guide to the nation’s major developmental shifts, urging those unfamiliar with it to explore its insights.
The Senior Minister of State asserted that embracing technology as a strategic enabler is integral to overcoming traditional constraints and enhancing competitiveness. He underscored Singapore’s pioneering role in digital technology adoption, dating back to the 1980s when the nation became one of the first in the world to integrate computers into its public service and workplaces.
Singapore places a paramount emphasis on the pivotal role of digitalisation in revolutionising its educational landscape. With a focus on enhancing learning experiences, fostering global competitiveness, and preparing students for the future workforce, the nation is embracing innovative teaching methods and personalised learning through advanced digital tools.
The integration of technology not only streamlines administrative processes but also facilitates seamless transitions between in-person and online learning models. This commitment to digitalisation reflects Singapore’s dedication to staying at the forefront of educational innovation, equipping students with essential technological skills for the evolving global landscape.
This commitment to technological advancement has persisted, forming the bedrock of Singapore’s digital foundation. Senior Minister Tan shed light on the government’s SMEs Go Digital programme, an initiative integrating emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud services into Industry Digital Plans (IDPs).
These IDPs serve as roadmaps, guiding businesses across various sectors in adopting digital solutions and upskilling their workforce. In a recent example, the Tourism (Attractions) IDP incorporated AI to streamline workflows and provide data-driven insights, enhancing decision-making for attraction operators.
The government’s holistic approach extends beyond specific sectors, with a thorough examination of industry disciplines sector by sector. This involves updating strategies, incorporating emerging technologies, and ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can boost productivity and competitiveness while navigating the complexities of digital transformation.
Senior Minister Tan cited the Chief Information Security Officers-as-a-Service initiative, where cybersecurity consultants aid firms in enhancing cyber resilience through “check-ups” and tailored health plans.
Encouraging firms and networks to actively engage with these programmes, Senior Minister Tan emphasised the need for Singapore to embrace its agency in shaping its future. He urged the nation to leverage its strong foundation and the strategic roadmap outlined in Forward Singapore.
As Singapore charts its digital odyssey, the EEA 2023 serves as a platform not just for acknowledging achievements but for inspiring a collective commitment to a future where technological innovation and lifelong learning propel the nation to new heights.
The Senior Minister of State added that Singapore’s exceptionalism relies on collective ambition, hard work, and unity, ensuring that the nation continues to defy the odds and stand as a beacon on the global stage.
In emphasising the importance of inclusivity, technology must cater to individuals with physical impairments who face challenges in using traditional input devices like mice and keyboards, which often leads to their exclusion from technical professions.
To foster inclusive accessibility, multiple alternative methods should be actively identified and implemented to facilitate individuals with physical impairments to engage in coding activities. The evolution of these alternative input methods signifies a positive shift towards a more inclusive and accessible technological landscape.
In an initiative to encourage digital inclusion and technological education, a KidBright Workshop has targeted students and teachers from 10 schools catering to children with disabilities. This workshop showcased the power of the KidBright AI Platform in guiding participants to construct embedded system projects.
Dr Patchralita Chatwalitpong, The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) Vice President for Science and Technology Human Resources Development, emphasised the significance of advancing science and technology education among disabled individuals. “Disabilities children also have the right to gain knowledge in this digital realm. Physically impairment is not merely the obstacle for it,” she addressed.
KidBright, a coding learning tool developed by NECTEC-NSTDA, emerged as a beacon of innovation. As an open-source embedded programming platform, KidBright enables children to learn coding through its embedded board and KidBright Integrated Development Environment programme (KidBright IDE). The platform’s accessibility and user-friendly interface empower young learners to delve into coding seamlessly.
The genesis of this impactful project traces back to 2018, when NSTDA initiated a pioneering effort to promote coding skills specifically tailored for children with disabilities. From 2018 to 2020, KidBright boards and UtuNoi STATION packages were distributed across these schools, accompanied by a series of workshops for both students and teachers. These workshops provided comprehensive training on programming KidBright boards and equipped participants with the skills to create embedded system projects.
The inclusion of data science knowledge in 2019 and 2020 further enriched the project, empowering educators and students to devise innovative solutions catering to the needs of people with disabilities. Notably, several of these inventive creations garnered accolades in innovation contests.
The project’s trajectory leapt in 2023 with a strategic expansion into artificial intelligence (AI). This follow-up session spotlighted the development of science projects utilising the KidBright AI Platform. Led by the adept Educational Technology Research Team and spearheaded by Dr Saowaluck Kaewkamnerd, this workshop aimed to deepen participants’ understanding of AI and encourage the creation of innovative projects with real-world applications.
This multifaceted project exemplifies the commitment to advancing education in emerging technologies and ensuring inclusivity in digital literacy. Integrating coding, embedded systems, data science, and AI into the curriculum empowers students, especially those with disabilities, to become adept in the digital landscape. The KidBright AI Platform catalyses nurturing creativity, problem-solving skills, and a passion for technology among the younger generation, transcending barriers and fostering a more inclusive and technologically literate society.
Further, the recognition of inclusivity has gained global attention, exemplified by its acknowledgement in the United States. The Alliance for Access, the Computing Career Centre from Washington University, outlined several approaches that can enhance programming accessibility for students with diverse disabilities. To illustrate:
- Clear Instructions and Examples: Providing clear instructions and relevant examples universally benefits all students, promoting a better understanding of programming concepts.
- Speech Input Software: Students who face challenges with conventional keyboards can leverage speech input software.
- Macro-Writing Programmes: Utilising a macro-writing programme for individuals with mobility impairments becomes invaluable. This programme facilitates the creation of shortcuts, simplifying the typing process.
- IDE Features: Integrated development environments (IDEs) may incorporate features specifically beneficial for students with disabilities.
- Word or Syntax Auto-Completion: Predictive typing assists users by anticipating their input.
- Syntax Highlighting: Color-coded representation of typed code enhances visual distinction.
- Variable Name Highlighting: Ensures consistent spelling of variable names.
- Inline Spell-Check: This feature can benefit some students, promoting accurate coding.
By highlighting and implementing this in the programming environment among disabled children in Thailand, educators can create a more inclusive and supportive learning experience for students with disabilities, not only enhancing the knowledge of students but also fostering inclusivity and equality.
Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Defence, Heng Chee How, and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health, Dr Janil Puthucheary, recently visited the Critical Infrastructure Defence Exercise (CIDeX) 2023, underscoring the government’s commitment to fortifying national cybersecurity.
The exercise, held at the National University of Singapore School of Computing, witnessed over 200 participants engaging in operational technology (OT) critical infrastructure defence training.
Organised by the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), with support from iTrust/SUTD and the National Cybersecurity R&D Laboratory (NCL), CIDeX 2023 marked a collaborative effort to enhance Whole-Of-Government (WoG) cyber capabilities. The exercise focused on detecting and countering cyber threats to both Information Technology (IT) and OT networks governing critical infrastructure sectors.
This year’s edition boasted participation from DIS, CSA, and 24 other national agencies across six Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) sectors. With an expanded digital infrastructure comprising six enterprise IT networks and three new OT testbeds, participants operated on six OT testbeds within key sectors—power, water, telecom, and aviation.
CIDeX 2023 featured Blue Teams, composed of national agency participants serving as cyber defenders, defending their digital infrastructure against simulated cyber-attacks launched by a composite Red Team comprising DIS, CSA, DSTA, and IMDA personnel. The exercises simulated attacks on both IT and OT networks, including scenarios such as overloading an airport substation, disrupting water distribution, and shutting down a gas plant.
The exercise provided a platform for participants to hone their technical competencies, enhance collaboration, and share expertise across agencies. Before CIDeX, participants underwent a five-day hands-on training programme at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)’s Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre (CyTEC) at Stagmont Camp, ensuring readiness for cyber defence challenges.
On the sidelines of CIDeX 2023, the DIS solidified cyber collaboration by signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with key technology sector partners, expanding its partnerships beyond the earlier agreement with Microsoft earlier in the year.
Senior Minister Heng emphasised the importance of inter-agency cooperation, stating, “CIDeX is a platform where we bring together many agencies throughout the government to come together to learn how to defend together.” He highlighted the collective effort involving 26 agencies and over 200 participants, acknowledging the significance of unity in cybersecurity.
Dr Janil echoed this sentiment, emphasising CIDeX’s role in the Whole-of-Government (WoG) cyber defence effort. He remarked, “Defending Singapore’s cyberspace is not an easy task, and it is a team effort.”
He commended the strong partnership between the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the Digital and Intelligence Service, recognising the exercise as a crucial element in strengthening the nation’s digital resilience and national cybersecurity posture.
By leveraging collaboration, innovation, and a robust defence strategy, Singapore aims not just to protect its critical infrastructure but to set a global standard in cybersecurity practices.
CIDeX 2023 serves as a compelling embodiment of Singapore’s unwavering dedication to maintaining a leadership position in cybersecurity practices. This strategic exercise underscores the nation’s commitment to cultivating collaboration and fortifying its resilience against continually evolving cyber threats.
Beyond a training ground for sharpening the skills of cyber defenders, CIDeX 2023 encapsulates the government’s profound commitment to adopting a robust, collaborative, and forward-thinking approach to safeguarding the integrity and security of the nation’s critical infrastructure in the dynamic landscape of the digital age.
The Cyberport Entrepreneurship Programmes’ 20th Anniversary Celebration and Graduation Ceremony was a major event attended by notable personalities, distinguished guests and budding innovators.
Cyberport is Hong Kong’s digital technology flagship and incubator for entrepreneurship with over 2,000 members including over 900 onsite and close to 1,100 offsite start-ups and technology companies. It is managed by Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, wholly owned by the Hong Kong SAR Government.
With a vision to become Hong Kong’s digital technology hub and stimulate a fresh economic impetus, Cyberport is dedicated to cultivating a dynamic tech environment. This commitment involves nurturing talent, encouraging youth entrepreneurship, aiding startups, fostering industry growth through strategic partnerships with local and international entities, and driving digital transformation across public and private sectors, bridging new and traditional economies.
Professor Sun Dong, the Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry, Hong Kong highlighted Cyberport’s incredible journey and the achievements of its vibrant community. Expressing his delight in commemorating Cyberport’s two-decade-long legacy, he emphasised the institution’s pivotal role as an ICT powerhouse in Hong Kong.
From its humble beginnings to its present stature, Cyberport has emerged as a catalyst for innovation, nurturing over 2,000 technology companies and startups and showcasing an exponential growth rate over the past five years.
Cyberport’s community has attracted a staggering US$38 billion of investment, marking its significance as an ICT flagship in Hong Kong. The establishment takes pride in its contribution to nurturing numerous innovative ideas and fostering dynamic business ventures, with seven notable unicorns in fintech, smart living, and digital entertainment sectors.
Cyberport excelled at the prestigious Hong Kong ICT Awards, with 25 startups securing 28 accolades, including the esteemed Award of the Year. This achievement showcased the institution’s exceptional calibre and innovation prowess nurtured within its ecosystem.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of startups in Cyberport’s success story, Professor Sun Dong shared how these young enterprises, often starting with a simple idea at a small table, grow in tandem with Cyberport’s support. The institution provides not just financial aid but also a nurturing environment where entrepreneurs can leverage extensive networks, collaborative spaces, and expert guidance to cultivate their ideas into commercial successes.
The graduation of more than 200 startups from the Entrepreneurship Programme stood as a testament to Cyberport’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial talent. This initiative empowers startups to translate their ideas into tangible commercial solutions and market breakthroughs, laying the foundation for their future success.
Looking ahead, Professor Sun Dong outlined Cyberport’s exciting plans, including the upcoming expansion block slated for completion in two years, aimed at providing additional space for the community’s development. He also highlighted Cyberport’s initiative to establish the Artificial Intelligence Supercomputing Centre, a pioneering endeavour set to commence in 2024, envisioned to be a pioneering and substantial facility in Hong Kong.
Cyberport’s extraordinary journey showcases significant achievements while charting a promising future, embodying the core values of innovation, collaboration, and collective growth.
Professor Sun expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government, acknowledging their hard work and contributions to the tech ecosystem emphasising the importance of collective participation for a better future.
The vibrant success of events like the Cyberport Venture Capital Forum 2023 resonates with Cyberport’s commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration, further cementing its role as a catalyst for technological advancement and entrepreneurial growth in Hong Kong.
The Cyberport Venture Capital Forum (CVCF) 2023 saw a turnout of over 2,500 participants during its two-day hybrid event. Themed “Venture Forward: Game Changing through Innovation,” the forum convened 80 global visionary venture experts, entrepreneurial pioneers, and influential thinkers. With more than 120,000 page views and over 300 fundraising meetings facilitated, it solidified its position as a pivotal platform fostering networking and collaborative opportunities.
The Chief Dental Officer of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Associate Prof Chng Chai Kiat highlighted their role in fostering collaboration, exploring innovation and propelling oral health into the future. Digitalisation, a key element of this transformation, takes centre stage providing a vibrant space for scientists to delve into technological advancements shaping the future of oral health.
Over the next few days, 60 local and international speakers will unravel cutting-edge technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), digital dentistry, biomaterials, orofacial devices, therapeutics, and more.
Oral diseases, affecting 3.5 billion globally, not only compromise health but also pose a substantial economic burden. In Singapore, the 2019/2020 National Adult Oral Health Survey revealed high prevalence rates, emphasising the need for effective strategies.
Assoc Prof Chng underlined the significance of oral health surveillance studies, crucial for policymaking and health system planning, while research becomes a driver for innovation in delivering quality oral care.
Population health takes precedence, aligning with Singapore’s healthcare reform through the Healthier SG initiative. The ageing population becomes a focal point, prompting the need for preventive care to ensure good oral health. Population oral health studies become instrumental in understanding responses to interventions across generations, contributing to effective policymaking.
A notable endeavour is the SG70 cohort study, “Towards Healthy Longevity,” integrating oral health research into mainstream public health initiatives. Led by the National University of Singapore, it examines the effects of biological, lifestyle, and socioeconomic factors on healthy ageing. A representative sample of 3,000 Singaporeans aged 70 and older will be followed for the next 10 to 15 years.
Digital dentistry solutions take a leap forward with the ongoing development of a clinically integrated workflow to produce removable partial dentures efficiently. Spearheaded by SingHealth-Duke NUS Medical School, this research proposal employs 3D dental prosthesis printing, biomaterials, and regenerative dentistry, catering to the oral needs of an ageing population.
Industry collaboration has become integral, and a noteworthy example is the development of an antiseptic mouth rinse with anti-viral properties. Originating during the COVID-19 pandemic, the study by the National Dental Centre Singapore has successfully partnered with a homegrown oral care brand, showcasing a synergy between oral health research expertise and industry knowledge.
Digital dentistry solutions have revolutionised dental practices by offering precision, efficiency, and enhanced patient experiences. Utilising advanced technologies such as intraoral scanners and CAD/CAM systems, these solutions ensure precise measurements and accurate diagnoses.
Digital workflows streamline traditional processes, significantly reducing chair time and enabling same-day restorations. This benefits practitioners in terms of time efficiency and enhances the overall patient experience, as digital impressions replace traditional materials, providing a more comfortable and less intrusive procedure.
Customisation and aesthetics are paramount in modern dentistry, and digital tools like CAD/CAM systems allow for the creation of highly customised dental prosthetics tailored to individual patient anatomy. The precise colour-matching capabilities of digital technologies contribute to restorations that closely resemble natural teeth, achieving superior aesthetic outcomes.
Additionally, improved communication between dental professionals is facilitated through digital platforms, enabling seamless collaboration on multidisciplinary cases. The ease of sharing digital records with laboratories, specialists, and other team members fosters better coordination in delivering comprehensive patient care.
Beyond the immediate benefits, digital dentistry offers long-term advantages such as cost-effectiveness, as reduced material costs and increased efficiency offset initial investments.
The accessibility and secure storage of digital patient records contribute to better continuity of care, while ongoing technological advancements, including the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing, ensure that dental practices remain at the forefront of emerging trends.
Hence, digital dentistry has become an essential component of modern dental care, providing practitioners with tools to deliver high-quality, patient-centred services in a technologically advanced environment.
Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, spoke at two influential tech events: the Indian Express Digifraud & Safety Summit 2023 and YourStory Techsparks’23. His engagements centred around India’s technological advancements, regulatory policies, and the nation’s promising future in the global tech landscape.
At these tech summits, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar outlined India’s ambitious technological trajectory, reinforcing the government’s dedication to fostering innovation, ensuring a safe digital environment, and harnessing the transformative power of technology for the nation’s progress.
Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar articulated India’s journey in artificial intelligence (AI) and emphasised the government’s commitment to fostering innovation and the startup ecosystem. He expressed the government’s profound interest in further boosting India’s burgeoning startup landscape.
Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar noted India’s transition from an unrestricted, eternally optimistic view of technology and the internet to a more nuanced approach. He highlighted the government’s aim to strike a balance between fostering innovation and growth while guaranteeing distinct rights for digital citizens.
The Minister emphasised the evolution from the phase of transforming India to the concept of ‘New India’ and now envisions witnessing the emergence of ‘Viksit Bharat’. He expanded on India’s transformation which resonated with the Prime Minister’s vision to raise India to a developed nation status, aiming to elevate the nation to the position of the world’s third-largest economy.
Highlighting the government’s initiatives, Minister Chandrasekhar stated, “Our focus is on startups, innovation, and funding, creating a computing infrastructure. In January, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi agreed to establish a significant amount of GPU capacity in India for startups to access and bring forth their innovation and foundational models.”
He advocated for decentralising the startup landscape, encouraging the emergence of successful ventures from various regions across India. “We want unicorns and successful startups to come from Meerut, Ghaziabad, Kohima, Srinagar, Kottayam, Belgaum, Dharwad, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, and beyond,” he asserted, confirming the nation’s commitment to fostering innovation in diverse cities.
Addressing concerns about internet regulation and safety, the Minister explained the government’s evolved approach, focusing on ensuring safety and trust for digital citizens while holding platforms accountable. He clarified that “safety and trust are not for the Government; rather, they are initiatives aimed at safeguarding the vast majority of Digital Nagriks”.
Reflecting on his participation in the UK AI Summit, Minister Chandrasekhar underscored India’s commitment to a safe and trusted internet, aligning with the government’s guiding principles since 2021.
“We want the internet to be safe and trusted; it is an article of faith. We also aim for platforms to be legally accountable,” he reiterated.
He highlighted the need to embrace AI’s potential while managing risks, warning against a narrative that diminishes its innovation. The Minister emphasised that avoiding the overshadowing of AI’s benefits by its perceived risks is crucial for the digital economy and the populace.
“We don’t seek to demonise AI; rather, it’s vital to maintain a balance so that the discourse on its risks doesn’t eclipse its potential advantages,” he explains, clarifying India’s approach to artificial intelligence.
OpenGov Asia provided coverage of India’s expanding global influence, highlighting the country’s leadership roles across diverse international platforms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has introduced the Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository (GDPIR) and a Social Impact Fund (SIF). The GDPIR will be used for sharing information and best practices and the SIF is designed to advance Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI).
He unveiled the schemes during the Virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit. Chaired by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) has played a key role in progressing the global DPI agenda.
The New South Wales (NSW) Government is working to address the anticipated shortage of 85,000 digital workers in the region by 2030. In a collaborative effort, government officials, leaders from the digital industry, and education and training providers are joining forces to bridge the looming digital skills gap. The Minister for Skills, TAFE, and Tertiary Education, Steve Whan, recently officiated the launch of the NSW Digital Skills and Workforce Compact at NSW Parliament House, marking a significant milestone in the initiative.
The collaboration involves 37 compact partners, comprising the highest echelons of industry representation. Together, these partners hold a considerable reach, influencing 1.7 million students and representing over 340,000 digital workers in NSW.
The scope of the compact is extensive, aiming to promote digital careers across the state, with a specific focus on encouraging traditionally underrepresented groups such as women, First Nations people, and individuals in regional and remote areas to pursue tech-related professions.
At its core, the compact seeks to transform the perception of digital careers, fostering diversity in the sector and creating welcoming and productive workspaces. Recognising the urgency of the skills shortage, the partnership is committed to developing and implementing new employment pathways, providing on-the-job training experiences for individuals aspiring to embark on a long-term career in the digital industry.
The ambitious goals of the NSW Digital Compact are outlined in a comprehensive set of milestones. Firstly, the compact aims to alter societal perceptions of tech careers, emphasising diversity and inclusivity within the sector. By collaborating with industry partners, the initiative plans to expand and enhance new pathway programs for tech roles, including traineeships and work experiences. Additionally, efforts will be made to extend the reach of mentoring and networking programs to engage a more diverse audience.
Recognising the importance of continuous learning and adaptation in the rapidly evolving tech landscape, the compact seeks to provide increased opportunities for the people of NSW to reskill or upskill in tech-related roles. This not only addresses the immediate skills shortage but also positions the workforce to meet the evolving demands of the digital industry.
A crucial component of the collaborative effort is the establishment of a Digital Education Forum. This platform, created in collaboration with universities, TAFE institutions, school curriculum providers, and industry experts, is dedicated to enhancing tech education and fostering stronger industry partnerships. The forum serves as a proactive measure to ensure that educational institutions are aligned with industry needs and that students are equipped with the skills required to thrive in the digital workforce.
The Minister Steve Whan underscores the significance of this landmark agreement, emphasising the commitment of the NSW Government to shape a digitally empowered future for the state. Beyond just bridging the skills gap, the NSW Digital Compact is laying the foundation for a resilient and inclusive digital workforce.
The Minister highlights that the compact represents a substantial opportunity for government, industry, and education leaders to work together in changing people’s perceptions of ‘tech’ and expanding the inclusivity of the sector.
The Chair of the NSW Skills Board and CEO of ANZ branch of the partnering tech firm stressed the research commissioned by the NSW Skills Board, projecting a shortfall of 85,000 digital workers by 2030. To address this gap, the compact partners aim to achieve 20% of new hires coming from alternative pathways by the same year. The Chair believes that the compact will play a pivotal role in providing a pipeline of diverse talent to fill high-paying, secure jobs that are being created in NSW’s rapidly growing digital sector.
The NSW Digital Compact Partners include the NSW Government, several major global companies, the Institute of Applied Technology Digital, TAFE NSW, Tech Council of Australia, and all NSW/ACT universities. This diverse coalition reflects a collective commitment to building a robust and inclusive digital workforce, ensuring that NSW remains at the forefront of digital innovation in the years to come.