QUT Business Leaders’ Forum: Continuous skills development to be ‘fundamental employee right’

Insurance alone cannot protect the Australian economy from the growing risk of cybercrime, the first QUT Business Leaders’ Forum for 2024 has heard.

Respected Australian business leader, Suncorp Chair and Minerva Network co-founder, Christine McLoughlin AM, said the global cost of cybercrime is forecast to jump to $36.4 trillion by 2027, up from $12.8 trillion in 2022.

While the federal government’s 2023 Cyber Threat Report shows the cost of cybercrime on Australian businesses is growing by up to 14% per year.

“Right now, we have around 1000 cyber security expert vacancies across the country and that’s expected to grow by almost 13% by 2028,” Ms McLoughlin said.

Collaboration between business, regulators and government must be prioritised to address this need, the financial services heavyweight said, along with a continuous upskilling of the current workforce to meet demand.

“We need an additional 600,000 tech workers to meet the goal of reaching 1.2 million people in tech jobs by 2030,” she said.

“These are whopping gaps that need to be closed in a very short period.”

Ms McLoughlin said continuous skills development will soon become a fundamental employee right, not a workplace duty or add-on benefit as demand for a digitally skilled workforce outpaces supply.

“Employers need to take charge of this agenda of ‘future technology-focused continual learning’ for their employees. This includes directly attributing paid work time to skill development,” she said.

“Employers of choice will be those that respect the potential of their employees and help them to learn, flourish and grow. And this investment by employers will be rewarded with a workforce that is fit and confident for the future and will help us address the national skills gap as a nation.”

ABC journalist Ellen Fanning with Christine McLoughlin AM and

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil AO

More than 460 people attended the highly anticipated first QUT Business Leaders’ Forum for 2024 at the Hilton Hotel, coming just weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Tribunal allowed ANZ’s acquisition of Suncorp Bank in a $4.9 billion purchase.

“Suncorp has been part of the fabric of Queensland for more than 100 years,” Ms McLoughlin said.

“We are now in the process of selling Suncorp Bank to ANZ to focus wholly on insurance. This is our core business and comes at a time when the value of insurance to people and communities has never been greater.”

A recent Insurance Council of Australia review found the 2022 floods in south-east Queensland and northern NSW were the second largest insured event in the world that year, behind Hurricane Ian that lashed the United States and Cuba.

“The cost of extreme weather events for Australia alone is expected to reach $35.24 billion a year by 2050,’ she said.

“We need to strengthen disaster mitigation and community resilience and improve insurance affordability.”

The QUT Business Leaders’ Forum was moderated by award-winning ABC journalist and QUT alumnus, Ellen Fanning.

The next forum will be held on Wednesday 29 May, with Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee CEO, Cindy Hook, the keynote speaker.

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