National Manufacturing Summit: Skills for the Future

What to expect from the upcoming National Manufacturing Summit.

Weld Australia is pleased to announce that it will once again host the National Manufacturing Summit. The 2019 National Manufacturing Summit will see a diverse group of industry stakeholders assemble in Melbourne to tackle key issues facing the Australian manufacturing industry. The Summit will be held on Thursday, 22 August at the Australian Synchrotron.

With the theme of “Skills for the Future”, The National Manufacturing Summit gathers leading representatives from all the major stakeholders in Australia’s manufacturing sector— business, unions, universities, the financial sector, suppliers, and government—to discuss the sector’s prospects, and identify key actions to leverage the opportunities currently available in the manufacturing sector.

The Summit is designed as an event for anyone with a vested interest in manufacturing, skills, training and apprenticeships.

Theme: “Skills for the Future”
Australia requires a significant increase in skilled, qualified trades workers to meet future demand on major projects in industries as diverse as defence, shipbuilding, aerospace, infrastructure, rolling stock, and resources.

The manufacturing sector is experiencing a period of sustained growth, and industry participants continue to cite workforce capability as an ongoing challenge. Finding and retaining skilled workers is front of mind, as is maintaining currency of skills and knowledge.

At the same time, a decade of state and federal government policies has diminished the role of the vocational education and training (VET) sector and, in particular, TAFE.

Having an appropriately sized, skilled, readily-available workforce at the right time is key to delivering the major projects on the horizon. Developing this workforce presents a complex and long-term challenge—it requires a significant amount of individual training and company up-skilling to meet global standards. A targeted strategy for workforce development is crucial and will require the manufacturing industry and the VET sector to work together to ensure its success.

Delivering the right training and education and ensuring that the right pathways are available for people to transition from training into work are vital. Industry input can lead to more strategic and targeted interventions to align the training system with industry needs. As such, the manufacturing industry can help facilitate information sharing and collaboration between government, employers, and training providers.

According to Geoff Crittenden, CEO of Weld Australia, this is certainly the case throughout
the Australian welding industry. “One of the biggest challenges the Australian fabrication industry is facing is a shortage of qualified welders certified as ‘gate ready’ for ship, submarine and land vehicle manufacture. This is compounded by a lack of appropriate Australian Standards and a framework for qualification and certification of welders.”

“Welder training in Australia is outdated and underfunded. The TAFE welding course and curriculum was last amended in 1995 and bears no relation to what is actually required by industry. In fact, in terms of welder training, nothing much has changed in over 130 years,” said Crittenden.

Perhaps most importantly, technical training requires a shift in thinking and a focus on the
skills that will be essential to the manufacturing industry of the future, such as automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing processes.

The technological change throughout the manufacturing industry is progressing rapidly, necessitating the acquisition of complex, high order technical knowledge and skills. This suggests a need for robust, deep and transferrable qualifications that provide a strong base for life-long learning and skill development. Equally, a strong culture of training and development in Australian manufacturing workplaces is essential.

Government, industry and education all play a role in solving this complex, long-term challenge, and in attracting, skilling, and retaining workers.

The Summit will explore the theme “Skills for the Future” and will highlight the importance of a skilled workforce capable of competing at an international level. Delegates will hear from leading experts from the manufacturing, training and skills sectors on what they can do now to future proof their organisations, as well as themselves.

Program Highlights
The 2019 Summit speaker program is being developed with the intent of facilitating a progressive, constructive, and forward-looking discussion on key issues relating to skills and training that affects the manufacturing industry in Australia right now. The focus will be on how industry and the skills and training sector can work together with governments, industry bodies and other stakeholders to deliver actionable, practical solutions. The speakers already confirmed include:

  • The Hon. Gayle Tierney (Victorian Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education)
  • Chris Brugeaud (CEO, SSS Manufacturing)
  • Geoff Crittenden (CEO, Weld Australia)
  • Dr Jens Goennemann (Managing Director, Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC))
  • Jim Stanford (Director, Centre for Future Work)
  • Craig Robertson (CEO, TAFE Directors Australia)
  • Adrian Boden (Executive Director, SEMMA)
  • Professor Michelle Gee (Director, Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre)

Venue: The Australian Synchrotron
The Australian Synchrotron is a major research facility located in Clayton—a technology and innovation hub of southeast Melbourne. It is one of Australia’s most significant pieces of scientific infrastructure.

The Australian Synchrotron produces powerful beams of light that are used at individual experimental facilities to examine the molecular and atomic details of a wide range of materials. The advanced techniques are applied to research in many important areas including health and medical, food, environment, biotechnology, nanotechnology, energy, mining, agriculture, advanced materials and cultural heritage.

Delegates will have the opportunity to tour the facilities at The Australian Synchrotron as part of the Summit program of events.

The Summit will begin with a welcome dinner on Wednesday, August 21 before a full day’s program of events on August 22. The Summit is co-sponsored by the AMCG, the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, TAFE Directors Australia, Australian Super and Innovation & Business Skills Australia.