Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox has welcomed the federal government’s call for a greater emphasis on manufacturing to reboot the Australian economy.
Willox said manufacturing had gained unprecedented public and political attention in recent weeks. He believes the shortage of vital equipment has raised an important debate about Australia’s management of global supply chains.
“We have learned hard lessons about over reliance on single sources of imports,” Willox said.
“We need to… ensure we strive towards excellence in what we do – including by aiming to leverage that excellence through exporting and supplement self-sufficiency with other strategies that build resilience.”
Willox said a national imperative of building resilience will require more rigorous management of the risk of supply chain disruption in individual businesses, as well as coordinated guidance and direction from all governments.
Skills and energy are the two biggest challenges that remain for local manufacturing, according to Willox.
“We need to focus on strategies that support the most vulnerable and hardest hit such as youth and apprentices who have suffered a disproportionate loss of jobs,” he said.
“Our apprentices have been one of the hardest hit groups with 15,000 apprentices and trainees either stood down, suspended or cancelled since March 1.
“Strategies to commence, continue, and re-engage apprentices should be at the forefront of government and business recovery efforts.”
The Ai Group’s latest Performance of Business Index recorded its lowest levels of activity in the survey’s history at 27.2. This was due to the rapid deterioration in business conditions across all sectors of the economy, particularly in consumer-oriented services.