PPI Mission to Australia: Jobs in the Australian App Economy

By / 8.13.2014

Leaders from the Progressive Policy Institute recently returned from Australia, where they engaged top government officials, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and policy analysts in discussions about the rising contribution of digital innovation to the country’s economy.

At a public forum held in the Legislative Assembly Chamber of the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney (left), PPI released its newest report, Jobs in the Australian Economy. The event featured a keynote address from Australian Minister for Communications, Mr. Malcolm Turnbull MP, followed by remarks from PPI President Will Marshall and Chief Economic Strategist Michael Mandel. Authored by Mandel, the report is the first effort to measure the tens of thousands of tech-related jobs created in Australia since the introduction of the smartphone in 2007.

Based on a methodology Mandel developed to estimate app job growth in the United States and United Kingdom, the study identified 140,000 Australian jobs that are directly related to the building, maintaining, marketing, and support of applications for smart-devices. Additionally, the report shows that the growth rate of Australian App Economy jobs, as a share of all tech jobs created since 2007, has significantly outpaced both the United States and United Kingdom. Perhaps more interesting, according to Mandel, is that Sydney and Melbourne are roughly on par with New York and London in a comparison of app-related growth.

“I congratulate Dr. Mandel on his new paper, Jobs In Australia’s App Economy, which is perfectly timed in identifying apps as a major and growing component of the ICT sector and economy generally,” said Mr. Turnbull (right) in his address. “It tells a very positive story in that many Australians ‘get it’— that apps will be important for their business, whether they are small businesses connecting directly with consumers or providing services to larger multinationals.

“This emergence and growth of this industry is a direct result of the market reacting to demand. That suggests there is a limited role for government here and the best thing we can do is to get out of the way to let private sector innovation continue to flourish.”

Indeed, as Mandel clarifies in his report, “Now, it’s important for policymakers to strike the right balance between essential and excessive regulation, especially in areas such as data privacy. … A general principle is that the tighter the regulations, the more obstacles in the path of the growth of the rapidly innovating App Economy.”

By creating a regulatory environment that fosters robust innovation, established democracies around the world can allow their growing app economies to become an integral part of their economic future bringing with them thousands of jobs and a wealth of other positive economic and social benefits.

While in Sydney and Melbourne, PPI leaders also held meetings with the following Australian thought leaders: The Honorable Paul Fletcher MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications; The Honorable Jason Clare MP, Shadow Minister for Communications; The Honorable Ed Husic MP; Keith Besgrove, Chair, National Standing Committee on Cloud Computing; Linda Caruso, Australian Communications and Media Authority; Niels Marquardt, CEO American Australian Chamber of Commerce; Suzanne Campbell, CEO Australian Information Industry Association; Brenda Aynsley, Australian Computer Society Inc.

Additionally, PPI’s release of Jobs in the Australian App Economy received extensive coverage in the Australian media, including in the Australian Associated Press, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, International Business Times,  iTWire, and Startup Smart.

To read more about PPI’s work in this area please also see: Bridging the Data Gap: How Digital Innovation Can Drive Growth and Create Jobs; Data, Trade and Growth; Can the Internet of Everything Bring Back the High-Growth Economy?; The Rise of the Data-Driven Economy: Implications for Growth and Policy; Beyond Goods and Services: The (Unmeasured) Rise of the Data-Driven Economy