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Australia’s digital economy is forecast to be worth $139 billion and account for over 7% of GDP by 2020 – bigger than traditional industry sectors such as agriculture, retail and transport.

The ACT is well-regarded as a centre for digital thinking and innovation, according to the ACT Government’s own Digital Strategy.

This reputation has been earned by an active community of start-ups, businesses and research and tertiary institutions that are internationally recognised and renowned.

Exports of computer and information services from the ACT increased by 25 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Our innovators are not merely putting the ACT on the map, they are creating a strong and diversified local economy that will flourish in the increasingly digital world we live in.

Potentially the biggest risk the ACT’s own digital economy faces is a skills shortage.

The Australian Digital Skills and Salary Survey reveals that 25% of Australian businesses are struggling to match digital business needs with adequately skilled employees.

Canberra’s training and education facilities are playing a key role in ensuring the ACT continues to have access to highly skilled professionals.

In 2017, the Australian National University was one of only four Australian universities ranked in the top 50 in the world for computer science and information systems by the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Another local training provider keeping the ACT on the cutting edge and helping develop and attract a skilled workforce is the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE).

AIE is Australia’s most awarded 3D animation, game design and visual FX educator. This exceptionally well-regarded institution retains our local talent and attracts the best and brightest to Canberra, where many may stay on, bringing their skills to local companies or increasing local employment by starting their own business.

The ACT Government is currently holding a public consultation on the future of AIE’s campus site at Canberra Technology Park.

AIE wants to continue to run its campus in Watson with a future upgrade in facilities including student accommodation. The plans AIE have for its Canberra campus are designed to make it an even more attractive location for Australia’s digital workforce to obtain their skills.

However, its future is not yet certain, with the ACT Government currently considering options for the site through a public consultation process.

While Canberra Business Chamber supports the ACT Government’s commitment to ensuring land use aligns with community interests, the benefits for Canberra of the AIE campus remaining a digital skills and job creation hub are immense and cannot be ignored.

It would be a major blow to the ACT’s aspirations and potential as a digital hub if AIE was not supported in its bid to stay in Canberra and build a creative precinct that will draw businesses, students and a skilled workforce to the Territory.