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Digital disruption: STEM graduates and more regulation not the (only) answer

The Grattan Institute’s Jim Minifie writes in The Conversation (16.6.16) about a Productivity Commission report looking at the effect of digital disruption upon the Australian economy, and which argues that governments need to ‘get out of the way’ in more cases so that innovation can thrive in a transitioning economy.

‘A complacent government could easily adopt a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the effects of technology on our economy, but a report from the Productivity Commissionadvocates what governments need to do to confront digital disruption – get out of its way.

‘Nobody would mistake the Productivity Commission program for that of a central planner – and just as well. If today’s technologies do lead to a fourth industrial revolution as transformative as the steam, electric and information technology revolutions before it, much of the work will be done outside government.

‘The report reviews how technology changes are affecting firms and markets, work and incomes. It contradicts some of the solutions already touted by politicians, such as the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics education) graduates and throwing lifelines to struggling firms or industries.

‘It argues that government should remove regulatory barriers to the spread of innovation. Its recommendations are generally sound, but it fails to provide solutions for privacy and ownership of data in the digital economy.’

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