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Manufacturing needs highly skilled workforce: report

Editorial
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A study has found Australia will need a more highly skilled and qualified workforce to build a competitive, high-end Australian manufacturing base over the next decade.

The Manufacturing workforce study report, developed by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency in consultation with industry, unions and the tertiary education sector, was released today at an industry forum in Melbourne.

The report examines how Australian manufacturing’s shift from heavy industrial manufacturing to higher value added, technologically advanced production will impact on jobs and skills in the years to 2025.

“To remain competitive Australian manufacturing needs to transition to a more diverse, high-end base, where there will be a stronger focus on research and innovation and more niche manufacturing of complex high value added goods,” Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency Chair Mr Philip Bullock said.

The Manufacturing workforce study report says despite recent downturns and closures in some subsectors, manufacturing in Australia can have a positive future. The industry is Australia’s fourth largest employer, makes a disproportionately large contribution to export revenue and research effort and plays a critical role in the uptake and spread of innovation in our economy.

It finds despite a probable lack of overall job growth in manufacturing, businesses will generate demand for a wider range of skilled Trades Workers, Technicians and Professionals, particularly in STEM disciplines. Technology and innovation may result in the loss of some occupations but will also change the scope of job roles and create new job opportunities.

The report’s recommendations include industry-wide collaboration and government assistance to industry, as well as reviewing and revising management training to suit contemporary managers and stronger collaboration between industry and universities to support more innovation.

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