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National Business Excellence Awards – Keynote Address – Greg Ellis, CEO, MYOB

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Date: Thursday, 1 September 2022
Speakers: Greg Ellis, CEO MYOB
Event: Master Builders National Business Excellence Awards
Topics: Productivity
E&OE

Good evening, everyone. Thank you to Denita and the Master Builders Australia team for hosting us here tonight to celebrate business excellence.

I’d like to say a few words but before I start, I acknowledge the Traditional owners of the land on which we all meet, Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I extend my respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Tonight, we find ourselves in the middle of a massive conversation about productivity. The Federal Government’s much anticipated Jobs and Skills Summit kicked off today, with the target of solving one big problem for Australia: how we get more of the right people into the right jobs.

At the Summit’s start, the Treasurer set the tone. He reiterated: productivity flows from investing in our people and their ability to adapt and adopt new technology. This is the way we achieve a stronger, broader, more sustainable economy. These are themes I’d like to talk to you about today.

Everyone in this room will identify with the skills problem this Summit is seeking to solve. During National Skills Week last week, the Prime Minister named construction managers, civil engineers and electricians among the top 10 skills priorities for the next five years. This shows how much this industry is over-indexing both in terms of need and in terms of economic importance to Australia.

This country has always relied on a thriving and productive construction sector. As a significant Australian employer and vital contributor to the GDP, it is critical every construction business has access to the tools it needs to be successful. Because without those tools, you cannot achieve productivity gains and economic growth.

When I talk about tools, I don’t mean a hammer or a hard hat. I mean tools that underpin industry-specific skills and are equally critical to business success and growth: digital business expertise.

Because the reality is, if it’s productivity we’re trying to solve for, skilling and staffing shortages is just one part of the problem.

Every business needs to be a digital business – and they need to be doing it now.

In the lead up to today’s Summit, I joined the Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, for a roundtable discussion on how we get more people into technology roles. My advice was this: we need more avenues for people to learn business and technology acumen and this is not limited to the tech sector pipeline. Supporting all Australians to adopt technology is vital if we’re going to create a thriving digital industry in Australia. Without a digital economy, the tech sector cannot grow.

The benefits are real. Businesses with meaningful digital engagement are 50% more likely to grow revenue. They are 8 times more likely to create jobs. They are 14 times more likely to innovate and come up with new products or services. If productivity is the goal, making sure every business is a digital business needs to be a major priority.

We know though this is not easy to solve for. MYOB modelling shows one in five SMEs have no or very low digitisation. To put that in context for this sector, that’s 80,000 building and construction businesses. That’s a significant quantity of the SME sector that’s totally absent from the digital opportunity.

When we talk about digital, we’re not talking a Facebook page. We’re talking digital inventory, people management, CRM. There is a big difference between being digitally literate and digitally fluent and if you aren’t all in, you won’t see the economic benefits I outlined before.

MYOB is pleased to be working alongside Master Builders Australia to overcome these considerations. This year, we jointly launched Women Building Australia, a digital skills program designed to build digital resilience in women among the construction industry.

We also jointly advocated for the legislation of two core tax incentives to enable greater take up of digital tools for SMEs currently lost in the digital divide: the Technology Investment Boost and the Skills and Training Boost.

These two initiatives, if legislated, would see $1.5 billion allocated to SME advancement, through a bonus 20 per cent tax deduction applied to spend on digital tools and employee skills. This is crucial investment; we know that to digitise the one in five SMEs who don’t currently participate in the digital environment would produce a 25:1 return on investment for the Australian economy.

That’s why we were delighted to see these Boosts progress to draft exposure and consultation this week. We will continue to advocate for this essential digital opportunity for SMEs and to ensure it is enacted as quickly as possible.

Market conditions are complex and will continue to be for some time. In addition to the significant people shortage, we face inflationary pressures and supply chain constraints. Being in a position to forecast and protect the future by being digitally resilient will support every business as we approach this critical five years for the nation. Productivity gains will be the result.

You in the room as leaders in business excellence are well placed to support the sector by setting the standard.

Thank you very much.

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