Figures quoted recently by the Australian Industry Group (AIG) (in the first quarter of the 2007 fiscal year) on the manufacturing employment market look quite dire, but inside the fabrication plants of Australia a positive difference can definitely be made.
For quite some time it has been recognised that investment in automation can make a huge difference to productivity and profits on factory floor, but gradually companies are also seeing that a new type of skill level can be gained from such technology, a development that can address the skill shortfall across Australia.
According to Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies, a lot of airspace is being given to complaints about the skills shortage and lack of apprentices, yet as a large employer the sheetmetal fabrication market has at its disposal new world automation perfect for offering a new skills base for Australia and New Zealand.
For the best part of 20 years, various governments were continuously criticised for not paying due attention to maintaining apprenticeship schemes and sure enough there is now a technical skills base reduction. Yet it is not fully appreciated that production plant automation now facilitates a new type of skills base that looks certain to address the skills vs job-availability imbalance revealed by the AIG.
The AIG's recent manufacturing employment market Study unearthed the following statistics:
At a university level, technical graduates account for 16.4% of the technically qualified market, but the job availability stands at 21.7%, illustrating a skills gap in that sector.
At a vocational education and training (VET) level such as the TAFE system, 30% of technically qualified graduates cannot fill a huge job market rate at 62.8%, thus telling us there are only half the amount of graduates required to fill industry’s technical skills gap at this qualification level.
But more alarmingly, 53.7% of the personnel market is competing to fill 15.5% of job availability.
Fabricators don’t cover the entire technical job market, but they do represent one of the largest employers and could be excused for jumping up and down with worry.
But in reality, many have begun to invested in modern, software driven automation technology not just improve their processes, they have also opened up new technical job avenues for their unskilled employees.
In the medium-term, Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies is absolutely positive that this will have a good effect on that huge imbalance in the skills versus employment availability market.
To have 53.7% of unskilled workers competing for 15.5% of jobs is not a workable situation, so the smart owners and plant managers are using the economic viability of software-driven automation and upskilling their staff to be able to use it.
AST is in a unique market position. Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies acts as a distributor for many top market brands of machine tools, inspection and scanning equipment, and other automation (FINN-POWER, Gasparini, Schroeder, DEMB, Prinzing, Kuhlmeyer, InspecVision just to mention a few), and sells tailored software solutions comprising products from these and many other brands (such as JetCAM, Metalix, Delem, AutoPOL, and Vertex).
Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies is often consulted on integrated machine/software solutions to organise the most profitable and workable solution on the factory floor.