Manufacturing skills fit for the future


Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has created an opportunity to boost Australia’s manufacturing sector. Companies are rightly optimistic about the future 

With the increasing development of a modern manufacturing industry, it is essential that skills keep pace to meet the future needs of workers, employers and industry.  

In its role as national skills developers for the manufacturing sector, IBSA Group’s priority is to help support a strong manufacturing sector by ensuring that skills and qualifications are fit for the future.  

To do this, we draw on research, analysis and consultation with employers and industry along with the expertise of our Industry Reference Committees.  

The Endeavour Awards are an important part of the ongoing process to showcase the progressive nature of manufacturing today. We need to improve the image of manufacturing so people looking at their next career options understand that manufacturing is not tired and old fashion, but a vibrant, progressive, leading-edge industry with a wealth of exciting and rewarding career paths. 

IBSA sees the Awards as a great representation of what engaging modern manufacturing looks like and give workers further reasons to jump on board and become part of an Australian manufacturing success story. 

We are constantly engaging with employers and workers to understand industry needs and what skills are required for manufacturing to be successful going forward. 

The Awards provide us with opportunities to learn from industry best practice. We use them to broaden our knowledge base and discuss the key, skills-related issues facing employers now and in the future. 

Having developed our Endeavour Award category, being involved in the Awards is a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on Excellence in Manufacturing Skills Development.   

Late last year, IBSA undertook an extensive six-month research and consultation process within the manufacturing sector that identified skills development priorities essential to building sovereign capability and economic growth.  

This Delivering Modern Manufacturing through a Skilled Workforce initiative was in response to increasing changes in workforce skills requirements, the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19 and the Australian Government’s release of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy. 

Through these consultations, IBSA sought the views of employers, peak Australian industry representatives and other organisations working in manufacturing and related industries. It then collated data to identify the priority actions needed to ensure Australia has the skilled workers required to support modern manufacturing. 

The findings and recommendations are documented in its Scaling up Report which was released in May 2021.  

The key findings included the need to build sovereign capability, the importance of addressing skills shortages, increased investment in new technologies and efficiencies and the need for strong industry partnership and collaboration.  

Sharon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, IBSA Group, said, “Now is the time for all of us invested in skills training in Australia to be bold and determined, to propose and, most importantly, get stuck into implementing practical solutions that will deliver relevant, dynamic training programs that meet the skills needs of current and emerging employers and industries. 

“These solutions need to attract school leavers, the unemployed and current workers to the real skills-based career opportunities available.” 

Ms Robertson added the consultations illustrated there was strong and clear consensus from manufacturers, training organisations, peak bodies and unions, operating within the sector, of the need to provide more work-based learning and apprenticeship training opportunities that create pathways to higher skills development. 

“To build sovereign manufacturing capability, industry wants a workforce skilled in product development, new technologies, design and prototyping, along with gaining efficiencies through sustainability and collaborative skills.” 

Some of Australia’s senior business leaders took part with Innes Willox, Chief Executive, Australian Industry Group, stating, “Future-focused training delivered with and in industry will be the critical factor that will turn the aspirations of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy into real opportunities to increase manufacturing capability onshore.” 

Jennifer Westacott AO, Chief Executive Officer, Business Council of Australia commented, “We need to support upskilling and reskilling for people with a wide range of prior experience and capabilities, including through flexible, stackable microcredentials.” 

The Scaling Up Report has been well received by Federal and State Government across the country and, IBSA is now planning a bundle of follow-on activities to start turning the recommendations into impact and further inform the workforce skills agenda. 

Further report follow-on activities, planned by IBSA over the coming months, range from roundtables and skills mapping for specific sectors, to projects supporting the upskilling of regional communities and a pathway for the effective delivery of micro credentials to meet current skills demands. 

In addition to these practical steps, IBSA’s goal is to continue to do everything it can to support workplace skills development in the manufacturing sector.  

Manufacturing employers are encouraged to get involved in these activities by registering at www.ibsa.org.au/contact and also to enter the Endeavour Awards.  

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