The director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has called for a “massive workforce transformation” in Australia, describing the future of the industry as “mission critical”.
Michael Sharpe has called on manufacturers to embrace technological change, which he says is increasingly needed if they are to add value to the industry.
Speaking at Autodesk University 2017, held in Sydney this week, Sharpe also noted that the sector is actually in demand for workers despite a rapid reduction over the past decade, influenced greatly by the decline of Australia’s automotive assemblies.
“There needs to be a massive workforce transformation,” Sharpe told the conference. “Just imagine, by 2027, Australia’s manufacturing workforce will not only have increased in size but also shifted in its composition.
“[The question will be:] what did we do to contribute to the value of manufacturing, to increase skills and leadership and often exceptional sales and services to back up the performance differentiation?
“What actions and pathways can we firmly put in place to develop the highest skills required to meet those areas of greater added value?
“To create the necessary workforce change, we must inspire our young students to study STEM discipline and pursue manufacturing careers. We need to make it inviting.”
To do this, Sharpe insists Australia must break away from traditional manufacturing and upskill to meet demands up and down the global supply chain.
He noted key “knowledge gaps” in robotics and automatic productions, materials and composites, digital design, bio- and nano-manufacturing, micro- and precision-manufacturing, and virtual reality.
“That is all happening now and, for its path, the industry must make sure that graduates are connected to more advanced manufacturing opportunities, meaning the demands of these skills must increase,” Sharpe said.
“Surprisingly, our analysis shows that we have more of a demand problem than a supply problem.
“Australian manufacturing is much larger and stronger than people give it credit for and is also transforming rapidly, with exceptional opportunities ahead of it.”