Industry agenda to encourage closer business-education links

The federal government’s competitiveness agenda is set to be
released today, with changes expected around business and academia linkages and
financial incentives regarding innovation.

Fairfax reports that the National Industry Investment and
Competitiveness Agenda is tipped to favour knowledge-based industries, and to
favour education institutes that provide skill sets relevant to the modern
economy. Resourcing for STEM subjects will be increased.

According to The Australian, the agenda will encourage
research that is tied to industrial outcomes, and will “put this at the centre of enhancing Australia’s
international competitiveness.”

The agenda is expected to be heavily influenced by the
Business Council of Australia’s recommendations and will identify five areas of
competitive advantage in Australia: mining technology, agribusiness, medical
technology, energy and advanced manufacturing.

It would thus be a departure from the previous avoidance of “picking
winners”.

The Australian Financial Review reports that one of the
novel aspects of the announcement will be a pilot of a business-sponsored
technical school, set to be trialled in a “socially disadvantaged area close to
industry”.

It will be inspired by what prime minister Tony Abbott saw during a visit to a New York school sponsored by IBM under the US Pathways in
Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program.

The Brooklyn school sees students study four years of high
school and two years of tertiary education, which qualifies them to work at an
entry level in the IT sector. IBM influences the curriculum and mentors the
students.

There are also expected to be changes to employee share
schemes. Options will be taxed only once they are converted to shares – a reversal
of changes made by the previous Labor government in 2009 – which is hoped to
encourage investment in start-ups.

Image: ABC