The Federal Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher says the rollout of the National Broadband Network is vital to upgrading the skills of Australia’s future workforce.
He said connecting Australia to fast broadband as quickly as possible was essential to providing coming generations to with the knowledge to face the future with confidence.
His comments follow the release of new research into the NBN rollout, “Bright Futures: Laying the foundations for the workforce of tomorrow.”
The report found:
- In future, there will be an increasing need for digital literacy. High growth jobs will demand an almost 700 per cent increase in digital literacy skills.
- The NBN will promote an increase in entrepreneurship.
- By 2030 the use of STEM skills in the workplace will almost double and;
- Primary school students in NBN connected areas will spend 75 minutes a-week extra on homework assignments than those without NBN.
The Minister’s optimism about the installation of NBN nationally is at odds with sustained criticism about the operating slowness of the proposed system compared to other speedier services, the long delays in getting NBN installed and the overall costs that run into billions of dollars.
Mr Fletcher said the new research showed high-speed access to the NBN is helping build digital literacy skill and power entrepreneurship.
“Today, four out of five homes and businesses can connect to high-speed broadband on the NBN,” he said. “To date, more than 5.5 million Australians have already connected.”
Minister Fletcher said the Government was on track to connect every Australian home and business to affordable, high-speed broadband by 2020.
He said he welcomed the extension of his portfolio to now include “Cyber Safety” which takes in electronic security to protect the online activities of all Australians.
“The Government believes Australians are entitled to expect that safety has been designed into the online services, platforms and apps they use every day,” he said.
“The internet has bought huge benefits to the lives of Australians and has become indispensable to almost all of us.
“In the physical town square, we expect that the rule of law will apply. If someone tries to harass us or steal from us, they will face consequences.
“Like the physical world, the online world has many risks from harassment to image-based abuse or extreme violent content and unwanted contact by strangers and scams.”
He said Australians expected the same rule of law to apply in the digital town square that applies in the physical world.
“A major hurdle to Australians staying safe online is that many of today’s most popular digital products and services have not been designed with user safety in mind,” he said.
“That needs to change. We expect digital platforms and large tech firms to play their part as well.” He said bolstering online trust and reducing harmful content was essential if the industry was to retain the confidence and loyalty of both users and advertisers.