IBSA Group report charts path for skilled manufacturing industry

IBSA Group

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A new report from workforce skills organisation IBSA Group has identified skills development priorities essential to building sovereign capability and economic growth in the manufacturing industry. 

The report, “Scaling Up: Developing Modern Manufacturing through a Skilled Workforce,” is the result of extensive national industry engagement and will be presented to the federal government Department of Industry, Education and Skills. 

“I would like to thank IBSA Group for the work that has led to the Developing Modern Manufacturing through a Skilled Workforce Report,” minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert said. 

“The report is welcomed for its extensive collaboration with industry, unions and the training sector, as well as government, to help inform the skills agenda. We are looking forward to continuing to drive the Australian economy forward with a skills-led approach.” 

There was strong and clear consensus from manufacturers, training organisations, peak bodies and unions of the need to provide more work-based learning and apprenticeship training opportunities that create pathways to higher skills development, IBSA Group CEO Sharon Robertson said. 

“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,” Robertson said. 

“The clear need for the development of advanced skills from the platform of work-based learning was identified. One of the key recommendations of the report is greater recognition of apprenticeships as pathways to higher qualifications and higher learning. 

“The manufacturing sector wants to see a system of apprenticeships that incorporate extensive STEM-based skills that provide qualifications equating to a diploma or advanced diploma,” she said. 

More collaboration between the VET and Higher Education sectors was also recommended, with industry to create more synergistic skills development pathways. 

“The focus on apprenticeships in last week’s Budget will be welcomed by manufacturers because in real terms, investment in the VET sector is currently at its lowest in a decade,” Robertson said. 

“Development of work-based learning should align and integrate VET with the Higher Education sector, rather than compete against it.” 

In developing the report, roundtable panellists Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox, Business Council Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Ross Lambie and ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connolly agreed on the opportunities for the sector. However, they noted that skills are fundamental to delivering a modern manufacturing industry. 

“If the recovery out of COVID has shown us anything, it’s that we can’t be slow in responding to the need for change. Manufacturers have been responsive and flexible in responding to the challenges of 2020,” Robertson said. 

“The skills sector needs to be just as responsive to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for Australian manufacturing and the industry’s current and future employees.” 

The IBSA Group report can be read in full here. 

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