Australia fell one spot to 14th in a ranking of “digital competitiveness” for 63 nations, continuing a slide from being 9th in 2015 when the study began. Since then Australia has gone backwards on the study’s three main criteria: Knowledge, Technology, and Future Readiness.

Australia is now in the bottom 10 countries for Communications Technology and Graduates in Sciences, according to the wide-ranging study. Australia’s NBN also stood out for the wrong reasons – Australia ranked in the bottom half for internet bandwidth speeds.

However, bright spots include the best flow of international students, E-Government, and a high adoption of digital technology. 

Run annually, the World Digital Competitiveness Rankings are collated by Swiss business school International Institute for Management Development (IMD). The study ranks countries based on how well they can harness technology and if they have the framework in place to adopt digitalisation.

According to the study, Australia is again falling behind global and regional competitors, after a slight uptick last year. Within Asia-Pacific Australia has fallen from 2nd in 2015 to 5th this year.

The Global top five, respectively the USA, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland, remained the same as 2018. 

Australia slips

Compared to the field of 63 countries, Australia ranks particularly poorly in Digital Skills (44th), Employee Training (44th), Graduates in Science (53rd), and Communications Technology (54th).

According to the study Australia is still 7th in the world in digital talent but it has fallen from 3rd in 2015 and now relies heavily on international students highly skilled foreigners, with Australia ranked number one in the world for the former.

The talent shortage is not being helped by poor employee training (44th), a lack of high tech patents (42nd). Internet speeds are also a problem with Australia ranked 38th overall.

Source: World Digital Competitiveness Rankings 2019

A lack of business agility is also hurting Australia’s ”Future Readiness”, according to the study. The Agility of Australian companies is ranked 45th, and all Future Readiness subcategories are well below Australia’s overall position

Bright spots

According to the study, Australia does enjoy a relatively strong regulatory framework. It is the 5th best place to start a business and in the enforcement of contracts. Intellectual property rights – one of the Australian government’s own digital bright spots with the well regarded IP Australia – is ranked 14th. 

E-Government, a measure by the study which focuses on government sites, infrastructure and education, was another bright spot with Australia ranking 2nd in the world according to the study. 

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