New Tech Skills Passport Launched in Australia – OpenGov Asia

A new technology skills passport has been developed by the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN). It will aid in equipping workers with the skillset they will require in the rapidly growing tech sector. This initiative falls under a $5 million election commitment, announced recently by the Coalition.
Through this new tech skills passport, workers will be able to match their existing skills and experience with the needs of the tech sector and navigate a path through the university and vocational education sectors. This initiative will build on ATN universities’ tradition of training students to engage and mould the world of work via flexible, adaptive and innovative education.
By 2025, Australia will need nearly 300,000 new tech workers. The nation will also require 12,000 university and VET graduates as well as 60,000 upskilled and reskilled workers more than it is currently preparing. To quicken the process, ATN universities will partner with vocational education providers and the tech industry to co-design, deliver and identify skills, and provide career support to help people capitalise on their skills.
The tech skills passport will also benefit from the work ATN has done with Designing Your Future – a short course that equips workers with a toolbox to solve problems, determine what they want in a career, and take practical steps towards their career goals.
The ATN Chair stated that the initiative is an answer to ATN’s calls for the Government to partner with universities and industry to deliver solutions to fill urgent and persistent skills requirements, flexibly meet emerging needs, and create a vision to address Australia’s challenges and opportunities. He noted that the three-way partnership between universities, industry and the Government is vital to enabling the delivery of improved outcomes for industry, workers and the economy.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the ATN noted that the coalition is proud to have the opportunity to develop a tech skills passport which builds on the very best of ATN universities’ experience in preparing students for the world of work, delivering innovative education options, and partnering with industry and vocational education.
Upskilling and reskilling Australians
To drive its commitment to make Australia a top ten data and digital economy by 2030, the Government of Australia launched the Digital Skills Cadetship Trial in late March 2022. The trial will blend work placements and on-the-job learning with formal training, helping cadets put classroom lessons into practice and matching employers with the brightest tech talent.
The trial is expected to focus on growing fields including cybersecurity, cloud computing and data analytics, and to target cohorts including those who have been displaced as a result of COVID-19 or are returning to the workforce.
The trial will have a strong focus on supporting women in the tech workforce including women who are considering a mid-career change or are re-entering the workforce after a break. Each cadetship will span four to six months and may include vocational or higher education units, plus industry training.
The Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business stated that the trial is part of building a pipeline of digitally-capable workers that will deliver Australian businesses the skills they need to innovate — and individuals the opportunities to help them succeed.
The Digital Skills Cadetship Trial will provide $10.7 million to support innovative approaches to cadetships for digital career paths and to increase the number of Australians with digital skills. The Minister noted, “We’re investing more than $100 million in digital talent to future-proof Australia’s economy and cadetships are just one measure — we’re funding cyber projects and scholarships in emerging technologies, including AI, across Australia as part of our national Digital Economy Strategy.”
Two biomedical companies under the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and a European leader in lung cancer research jointly announced that they will be entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), forging international collaborations between local talents and worldwide institutes via connection to corporates’ global network.
The partnership program includes two Science Park-based companies – the first being one of the research centres under the [email protected] cluster funded by the Innovation and Technology Commission, and the other is a biotechnology company under the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.
The 5-year strategic partnership will study the preclinical efficacy of proprietary anticancer compounds developed by the Lead Principal Investigator and Managing Director of one of the research centres under the [email protected] cluster funded using the second HKSTP company’s breakthrough technologies, including, Onco-PDO™ (Patient-Derived Organoids Chemotherapeutic Test), the biotechnology company’s Humanized Mice Technologies, & Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).
The research conducted will set forth the pathway in an attempt to make advanced cancer a treatable chronic disease and improve patients’ lives. Dr Rafael Rosell, a renowned lung cancer expert based in Spain, will serve as clinical and scientific advisor of the project, collaborating on the study of molecular mechanisms of the anticancer compounds and advising on future clinical trials.
Along with the multilateral research framework, the biotechnology company will contribute, to eligible cancer patients, their Onco-PDO™ Chemosensitivity Test, an in vitro drug screening on patient-specific organoid as a therapeutic tool in personalized treatment, leading to more durable responses with fewer side effects from less responsive treatment. The contribution covers cancer types including lung cancer, breast cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and cervical cancer.
The Managing Director of the research centres stated that he hopes for the successful growth of the centre that will lay a foundation for the establishment of the National Innovation Centre in Hong Kong, which would become the engine to power “the development of Science and Technology for the benefit of mankind”.
Meanwhile, the European specialist stated that centralising cancer biology research is essential through international collaboration to develop new therapies and optimise treatments, such as those based on chemotherapy. Interdisciplinary, international collaboration could harmonise the understanding of oncogenesis, a determinant factor in augmenting curability and cancer elimination, he added.
The Regional Head of the biotechnology company stated that as an enterprise actively participating in this research project, the firm hopes to fill the gap to transform the wealth of expertise into actionable solutions meeting unsolved medical challenges and strengthen the interaction between the public and private sector, making research more sustainable.
The Commissioner for Innovation and Technology said that the signing of the MoU on the tripartite collaboration between one of the InnoHK research laboratories, the biotech firm and the European specialist signifies an important step in building a partnership between Hong Kong’s InnoHK research laboratories and renowned international collaborators in the field of health-care and life sciences.  She added that the government looks forward to the translation of the Laboratory’s R&D deliverables into new solutions and promising treatments in the foreseeable future.
The CEO of HKSTP stated that this high-level collaboration manifests the global potential of Hong Kong’s biomedical R&D ecosystem and realises InnoHK’s vision of building a world-class centre for translational research, while HKSTP will continue to support global talent and tech ventures on life-changing innovation missions to benefit society.
The Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu recently launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled panic button and CCTV surveillance project to make travel safer. The initiative will be implemented in phases, aiming to cover 2,500 buses in Chennai city. Under the first phase, 500 buses in the metro city have installed four panic buttons, an AI-enabled mobile network video recorder (MNVR), and three cameras each.
According to a report by the government’s AI portal, the MNVR will be connected to a cloud-based control centre via a 4G GSM SIM card. In case of inconvenience, discomfort, or threat, passengers will be able to press the panic button and record the incident. At the same time, an alarm will go off at the control centre along with a video recording of the incident on the bus. The operator at the control centre will be able to monitor the situation and facilitate, in real-time, the next course of action, the report said.
The control centre has been linked to the distress response centre of the city police and Greater Chennai Corporation. The state government has noted that 31 bus depots and 35 bus terminuses of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) have been brought under surveillance. The project will also help detect missing persons and identify criminals and other works of the GCC, transport department, and the police.
Other states across the country have also deployed technology-enabled solutions to better monitor traffic. In April, the Ministry of Electronics and Information developed and launched indigenous onboard driver assistance and warning system (ODAWS), a bus signal priority system, and a Common Smart IoT Connectiv (CoSMiC) software to improve road safety.
ODAWS uses sensors to monitor driver propensity and vehicle surroundings and send out acoustic and visual alerts. The ODAWS algorithm is used to interpret sensor data and offer real-time notifications to the driver. The bus signal priority system is an operational strategy that modifies normal traffic signal operations to better accommodate in-service public buses at signal-controlled intersections.
CoSMiC is middleware software that provides the standard-based deployment of the Internet of things (IoT), which follows the oneM2M-based global standard. It facilitates users and application service providers in vertical domains to use application-agnostic open standards and interfaces for end-to-end communication with well-defined common service functionalities. The CoSMiC common service layer is used to interface with any vendor-specific standards and to increase interoperability with smart city dashboards.
More recently, the Kerala state government announced it would deploy AI-based cameras on traffic-heavy roads in a bid to reduce accidents by half within the next two years. As OpenGov Asia reported, the government expects traffic rules to be more effectively enforced after the software is put in place, as it automates detecting road violations and issuing fines. Once the system captures the breach of the road rules, the footage will be sent to the central government’s server. The vehicle owner will receive an SMS regarding the fine, and, at the same time, the information will directly be sent to court. This will reduce corruption as it limits local authorities from waiving the penalty.
The City of Philadelphia has announced that PHLConnectED will continue until July 2023 to provide pre-K–12 families with free internet access and has selected grantees to encourage the development of digital skills among pre-K–12 caregivers. PHLConnectED is the city’s initiative to provide free and reliable internet access and is one of the key priorities for sustaining crucial digital equity programmes of the Philadelphia Digital Equity Plan.
The programme in its third year will focus on two key priorities: continuing to connect Philadelphia pre-K–12 families in need to free internet access through Comcast’s Internet Essentials or a T-Mobile hotspot and providing resources for digital skill-building.
To date, PHLConnectED has enabled more than 21,000 internet connections, facilitating educational opportunities and access to valuable information for students and their families. We encourage families and residents in need of internet access to dial 2-1-1 so we can help them overcome the digital divide
– Jim Kenney, Mayor, City of Philadelphia
In its start in the summer of 2020, PHLConnectED prioritised providing free internet connection for students to engage in online learning during the pandemic. The city recognises that internet connection is crucial for students to participate in their education, regardless of their location.
However, having access to devices and the internet is insufficient. People must understand how to use them. Digital literacy is the ability to use digital technology for living, learning, and working. The epidemic underlined the need for caregivers to possess digital skills in order to assist their pupils in school.
The focus of PHLConnectED’s digital skill-building efforts is on pre-K–12 educators in an effort to close the homework gap and strengthen educational assistance for kids. With this in mind, two grants were launched to fund organisations to help caregivers build their digital skills.
The Caregiver Digital Literacy Initiative Grant required organisations to construct a regular schedule of digital skills sessions for any pre-K–12 caregivers or family members to improve their skills to better support their kids.
The School-Based Caregiver Digital Supports Grant provides funds for school-based programmes that assist caregivers in gaining a better understanding of and proficiency with regularly used digital technologies within the school community.
As dependable communicators and easily accessible resources for caregivers, schools and community-based organisations are essential to the work of PHLConnectED in Philadelphia. The city agreed that schools and community organisations can provide people with the digital literacy skills they need to support their children’s education, communicate with schools, and participate actively in their education.
While Philadelphia has been working on digital equity for more than fifteen years, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated additional resources and a thorough strategic plan. Through working from home, virtual learning, telehealth, and other applications, technology became an integral component of daily life for residents. 
In the next five years, the Digital Equity Plan aims to assist Philadelphia to achieve a baseline level of digital equity. Internet access, digital devices, and digital literacy are the three pillars of digital equity.
Philadelphia will continue to promote digital equity as part of its digital equity efforts. Three specific targets that will help the city achieve its objectives are 1) Funding programmes in Philadelphia that promote digital equity, such as PHLConnectED, Digital Navigators, public computing facilities, and digital literacy classes; 2) Engaging with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding Philadelphia’s digital equality needs, particularly in terms of federal funding distribution; and 3) Forming public-private partnerships that encourage businesses and organisations to participate in digital equity and showcasing how bridging the digital divide would benefit the entire city of Philadelphia.
The Minister for the Public Service recently announced that the Australian Public Service (APS) will partner with the University of Newcastle to deliver a new university Academy Campus. The APS Academy Campus will offer a suite of flexible data and digital training and entry-level employment opportunities for students to help kick-start their APS data and digital professional careers without leaving our region.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle welcomed the partnership announcement that will help drive new opportunities for the country, our region and students. He noted that the University is well-placed to lead the development of the digital economy for the region and they welcome this partnership with the Australian Government to establish an APS Academy in Newcastle.
He added that in an increasingly connected and digital world, the Academy will complement our existing work in cyber security and digital innovation, boost the skilled workforce in the region, and further embed collaboration with government and industry.
Moreover, it will provide students with new pathways for data and digital professional careers through work placements, and ensure that when they graduate, students will be ready for the digital world that awaits them.
The Academy Campus based at the University of Newcastle’s Callaghan campus is scheduled to be up and running in 2023. The Academy will initially offer up to 30 placements for students studying in the fields of computer and data science, information technology, software engineering and cyber security.
Supporting the growth of I&T in Australia
The 2022-23 federal Budget is Australia’s plan for a stronger future – this means a serious commitment to the future-facing industries, technologies and skills that will keep Australia at the forefront of a fast-changing world.
With Australia’s economy currently sitting above pre-pandemic levels and ahead of the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan and Italy, the Government has mapped out a ‘big picture’ pathway, as well as continuing to support businesses and individuals through current challenges.
Focus on innovation and technology
Some of the key new initiatives announced in this year’s Budget revolve around innovation, technology and developing the next generation of Australian companies and products. In particular:
Digital technology
Australia’s goal to become a top 10 data and digital economy by 2030 has been boosted by extensive funding in the budget. As well as significant support for businesses to embrace the digital revolution, the government will pour more than AU$ 130 million into its Digital Economy Strategy, building on last year’s AU$ 1.2 billion budget funding and the further AU$ 347 million committed over the past 12 months.
The new strategy initiatives include extending the government’s cyber hubs pilot, funding for Australia’s quantum computing industry, supporting women to pursue career opportunities in the growing tech workforce and investing in the digitisation of the transport sector, among others. The government is also planning to develop a Digital Age Policy that will be used to position Australia as a world leader in regulating the digital economy.
Vietnam has launched its first official legal entity, the Vietnam Blockchain Union, which specialises in blockchain technology. The union was established under a decision issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was set up to promote the nation’s digital economy, making Vietnam a top global contender in terms of emerging technologies. Blockchain is a form of data storage and transmission technology using encryption. Its transparency in data sharing is the reason countries and the finance, logistics, and retail industries are investing heavily in its application.
A recent report wrote that the Vietnam Blockchain Union will connect with blockchain organisations and communities around the world. It will enable members to share experiences and resources to research, test, apply, deploy and trade blockchain technology. It will also attract investment for the blockchain industry and train and develop digital human resources. According to an official, the Vietnam Blockchain Union will raise community awareness and guide the development of legal corridors, standards, and regulations in the application and creation of products and services on the blockchain technology platform.
Vietnam has been focusing on researching and applying blockchain. The state has supported the development of blockchain technology applications in socio-economic fields, in which pilot priority is given to businesses deploying feasible blockchain projects, which are expected to aid society at large. Currently, blockchain is mainly applied in the financial sector, especially in digital assets and currencies. Countries around the world are forming policies and laws to regulate this technology.
For example, in March, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) formalised the designation of business activities surrounding cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency businesses will be listed under the category of “finance, insurance and real estate” as “virtual currency platforms and trading businesses” rather than under the category of “software design services.” Security Token Offerings (STO), a type of public offering for digital tokens using blockchain or distributed ledger technology, will be listed under the subcategory of securities firms. As such, it will be subject to the same supervision as existing businesses in the securities industry. MOEA made the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) the main authority responsible to oversee cryptocurrency operations. The commission will work with tax and law departments to set up rules to regulate the evolving but volatile cryptocurrency market.
In Singapore, the Monetary Authority (MAS) has created a two-pronged approach to the crypto ecosystem. Firstly, it will bolster digital asset capabilities. The digital asset ecosystem encompasses an entire range of crypto-related services, and MAS is working to enable a conducive environment for these activities to flourish. For instance, it is clarifying tax treatment, promoting talent development, offering innovation grants, and working with the industry to explore the potential of blockchain through real value experiments.
The second part of the approach is to manage risks, including money laundering and terrorism financing. MAS aims to be adaptive, continually evolving, and consultative as the crypto ecosystem is a fast-moving space. It claimed it will issue guidelines before using legislation. It will continue to provide clarity to the industry on its regulatory thinking and concerns, but at the same time, leave the door open for opportunities to co-create solutions with the industry.
Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have invented a microsize-gap multiple-shot electroporation (M2E) device that has the potential to increase the efficiency with which cancer treatment is offered at a cheaper cost. The researchers came to the conclusion that the instrument would benefit from having transparent electrodes installed in it so that it could better visualise anti-cancer medications.
According to Desmond Loke, an assistant professor at SUTD and the primary investigator of this research, the scientific community wants to create a simple, low-cost cancer treatment system. “The narrow gap between electrodes allows us to achieve a sufficiently strong electric field using a few volts rather than several tens of volts applied in traditional electroporation.”
Assistant Prof. Loke revealed that the device that was built by SUTD did not require any specialised components, expensive materials, or a tedious fabrication process. He stated that this was one of the most important aspects of the device.
The M2E device, which is connected to the development of cancer treatments, was put through its paces by researchers utilising a variety of substances. Because of this new technology, cancer cells can now display a two-hour window in which they are able to take in chemicals.
The time frame offered by conventional electroporation equipment is approximately 400% shorter than what is supplied. In addition to that, it may be utilised more than once. According to the results of the study, the M2E system has the potential to be beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19 when combined with associated drugs.
Electroporation is a technique that involves the application of a very weak electric pulse to cells in order to momentarily create holes in the membranes of such cells. The goal of this technique is to transfer genetic material across cells. The goal of using this method is to facilitate the movement of chemicals into and out of the cells.
This method has the potential to increase the likelihood of drug delivery for the treatment of cancer patients. The chemotherapy and radiation therapies for cancer can be administered through these holes if they are large enough. It is possible that the effectiveness of cancer treatments, as well as patients’ access to those treatments, could be improved through the integration of electroporation into treatment protocols.
This contrasts with how electroporation was traditionally performed, in which several tens of volts were applied. This low voltage, together with the transparent electrode, serves to minimise energy use and facilitate visibility, avoiding dangerous drug use and restricted imaging of drug transport during drug testing, both frequent concerns with conventional electroporation devices. Low voltage also prevents dangerous drug use.
In addition, the permeability of tumour cells can be improved through the utilisation of electroporation in the treatment paradigm of electrochemotherapy to achieve the desired outcomes. Because of this, the cancer cells can more effectively absorb chemotherapy drugs like bleomycin and cisplatin.
After the researchers have finished working on ways to improve the M2E system, they anticipate that it will be a few years before the device finishes the clinical study and is ready for widespread use. The M2E technology has the potential to pave the way for much-enhanced delivery of cancer medicines and a more uniform distribution of cancer treatments to under-resourced and underserved places all over the world.
The United States’ National Science Foundation backs the researcher from the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) who made the robotic mini-cheetah to run rapidly through AI and machine learning. The robot cheetah broke the record for the quickest run by adapting to terrain variations through simulation.
The scientists trained the robot cheetah using a “learn by experience” technique. Humans have created robots that can walk, lift, and jump, but quick and efficient running is not one of them. Until now, that is. Running necessitates robots to respond quickly to changes in the environment and terrain.
The team taught the robot cheetah how to adapt to changes in its environment while in motion using the learn by experience paradigm, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Using simulated scenarios, the robot can quickly experience and learn from varied terrains.
According to the researchers, manually training robots to adapt is a time-consuming, labour-intensive, and tiresome process. The experts believe that teaching robots to teach themselves could solve the scalability problem and allow robots to develop a broader set of abilities and tasks. They have now begun to apply their method to a broader range of robotic systems.
Researchers from MIT’s Improbable AI Lab, part of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and directed by MIT Assistant Professor Pulkit Agrawal along with the Institute of AI and Fundamental Interactions (IAIFI) have been working together. Meanwhile, MIT PhD student Gabriel Margolis and IAIFI postdoc Ge Yang demonstrated the cheetah’s speed.
Fast running necessitates pushing the hardware to its limitations, such as operating near the maximum torque output of motors. In such cases, the robot dynamics are difficult to represent analytically. The robot must react swiftly to changes in the environment, such as when it comes into contact with ice while running on grass.
When the robot walks, it moves slowly, and the presence of snow is usually not an issue. Consider how you could negotiate practically any terrain if you walked slowly but carefully. Today’s robots confront a similar dilemma. The issue is that travelling across all terrains as if walking on ice is wasteful, but it is widespread among today’s robots. Humans adapt by running swiftly on grass and slowing down on ice.
Giving robots similar adaptability necessitates rapid detection of terrain changes and rapid adaptation to prevent the robot from falling over. In general, high-speed running is more difficult than walking because it is hard to create analytical (human-designed) models of all potential terrains in advance, and the robot’s dynamics become more complex at high speeds.
Programming a robot’s actions is tough, according to researchers. Human engineers must manually alter the robot’s controller if it fails on a particular terrain. However, humans no longer need to programme robots’ every move if the robot can explore many terrains and improve with practice.
Researchers added that the modern simulation tools allow the robot to gain 100 days of experience in just three hours. They also developed a method by which a robot’s behaviour improves from simulated experience and is successfully deployed in the actual world. The robot’s running talents function in the actual world because some of the simulator’s environments teach it real-world skills. The controller finds and executes essential talents in real-time.
Artificial intelligence research balances what humans must develop with what machines can learn on their own. Humans tell robots what to do and how to accomplish it. Such a system isn’t scalable because it would take significant human engineering effort to manually design a robot to operate in numerous contexts.
© 2022 OpenGov Asia – CIO Network Pte Ltd.

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