Skilling for high-performing workplaces

AUSTRALIA’S manufacturing industry may be staring down the barrel of a major skills shortage, but the push to build high-performing workplaces at a micro level could provide the solution manufacturers need to turn the skills issue around.

Speaking at the Western Sydney Manufacturing Leaders Forum and Innovation Technology Showcase, as part of NSW Manufacturing Week, Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) policy and projects manager, Lee-Anne Fisher, said developing processes and procedures around people-oriented frameworks can help companies resolve their skills issues, and put them in a better position to become competitive.

Such frameworks include Participative Decision Making (PDM) Skills Development and Utilisation (SDU), which will form part of an on-going study conducted by Ai Group.

Due to be released in September, the ‘Building Productivity Firm-by-Firm: High Performing Workplaces’ study will provide contemporary, real-life examples and case studies of local manufacturing companies that are considered to be ‘high-performing’.

"By highlighting what it is that makes these companies high- performing workplaces, the study will provide a working example of what has been learnt from [these workplaces]," Fisher told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

The report is expected to provide some much-needed industry perspective to workplace structures and staffing, in order to help build more efficient workplaces by informing industry about the best approaches to take to become high-performing companies.

The report’s release will come at a time when manufacturers are expected to face a tough fight to retain skilled staff from moving across to better remunerated sectors, such as mining and infrastructure projects, or to simply bulk-up the depleting skills ‘pipeline’.

According to Fisher, the next five years will prove to be interesting times for the Australian manufacturing industry.

"Australia has experienced a prolonged period of skills shortage which is set to intensify with the resurgence of the resources sector and the major infrastructure and reconstruction projects underway," says Fisher.

"We need to look at all avenues to access the skills manufacturers need and to tap into underutilised skills in the industry. Notwithstanding reductions in overall employment levels in manufacturing, there are still deep and sustained skills shortages."

Pictured: Lee-Anne Fisher, Australian Industry Group manager of policy and projects.