Better literacy and numeracy required if Bendigo acquires Smart Cities pilot.

Bendigo will require its residents to possess better levels of literacy and numeracy if it becomes a pilot site for the federal government’s Smart Cities plan.

Bendigo Business Council chief executive officer Leah Sertori, whose organisation is leading a bid for Smart Cities selection, said there would be less employment opportunities in the regional centre for people who do not have a strong grasp on English and mathematics.

‚ÄúIt (literacy and numeracy)¬†needs to be medium to high. We need to really increase our performance and¬†we need to do that in a way that doesn’t leave people behind,‚ÄĚ she said.

Ms Sertori said creativity and the ability to reorganise information were also skills worth passing on to young Bendigonians.

Improved levels of literacy and numeracy would mean residents of the central Victorian city were better equipped to handle roles in burgeoning industries like technological manufacturing, she said.

The head of La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus, Rob Stephenson, said the technical school announced for the city prior to this year’s state budget would play a key role in keeping students engaged in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

He said students had been discouraged from pursuing a career in STEM fields because of the perception technology jobs had been taken offshore.

‚ÄúThat’s not the truth at all. What we’re facing is a desperate shortage of high level IT graduates,‚ÄĚ Mr Stephenson said.

While those skills might be new, they could be used to overcome long-lasting problems, Coliban Water insight and innovation general manager John Anstey said.

He explained data from health, water and government authorities could be used to accurately assess the prevalence of mental illness in times of drought.

He also said the initiative could see better uses of recycled water to ‚Äúfuture proof‚ÄĚ the¬†city against shortages of the precious liquid.

An open data hub and utility grade power facility are also being floated as possible additions to Bendigo under the Smart City model.

The city would not need to start from scratch when recruiting people for these positions, Mr Stephenson said, explaining that middle-aged workers, or people in their 20s who had missed out on higher education, could re-skill to take on roles in the new-look economy.

‚ÄúAs technology rolls on, and as people talk about the percentage of current jobs that might be done in an automated fashion, there’s going to be a lot of new jobs created,‚ÄĚ he said.

“Even with Smart Cities and these new jobs, there will still be a range of skills needed.

‚ÄúThere‚Äôll be technical skills right through to high-degree postgraduate skills.‚ÄĚ

The consortium behind the Smart Cities push will meet with representatives of the state and federal government in the next two months, with a draft proposal put up for public feedback around late September.

In the meantime, people who have pioneered technical innovations will be among those who speak at a Bendigo Business Council lecture this evening.

Grey Innovation business development manager Grace Lethlean, who is working on a trial of a bionic eye, will join Keech CEO Herbert Hermens and Engineering Australia’s Chris Stoltz at the Capital theatre from 6.30pm.


This article is courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser