A more difficult policy issue to address in Australia is how to encourage the development of ICT skills, said Clare.
"The most valuable assets in this country aren't in the ground," he said. "They're between our ears, and we're not fully exploiting them at the moment."
Clare said that while 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations in Australia require STEM skills, the number of students taking STEM courses is not keeping up with demand and has in fact dropped 36 per cent in the last decade.
In the last 10 years, the private sector has created 100,000 new jobs requiring STEM skills, but only 49,500 students have graduated with technology degrees, he added, citing figures released by the Australian Computer Society.
"If we're going to succeed here, we have to change the way we teach our kids about technology, starting in kindergarten."
However, a new technology curriculum has been held up by Education Minister Christopher Pyne, despite winning the support of all the states and territories, said Clare.
The curriculum would introduce computational thinking earlier into the classroom. "It needs to be implemented sooner rather than later."
Clare also spoke about the NBN at the conference, urging the government to block TPG from going forward with deployment of fibre to the basement.
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