New manufacturing report: Innes Willox highlights training as a critical factor

In a report released this week, Scaling Up: Developing Modern Manufacturing through a Skilled Workforce, Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox has identified future-focused training delivered with and in industry as the critical factor to turn the aspirations of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy into increased manufacturing capability onshore.

The report, developed by Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA), recognises that manufacturing is experiencing a period of renewed opportunities. However, if manufacturing is to become the cornerstone of Australia’s economic future, skills development must be a key focus for the delivery of a vibrant modern manufacturing industry.

IBSA consulted manufacturing stakeholders from across the sector to discuss skills challenges and opportunities. In the development of the report, a roundtable discussion featured Innes Willox along with Business Council Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Economist Ross Lambie, and ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly. All agreed on the renaissance-like opportunities facing the sector but saw skills as fundamental to a strong  manufacturing industry into the future. The roundtable included Nick Purtell, the General Manager, Modern Manufacturing Strategy from the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and over 40 senior executives representing key stakeholders.

The roundtable speakers agreed Australia needs a strong modern manufacturing sector to be globally competitive, but to produce innovative products it must have responsive education and training sectors. They saw the need for quality training that is jobs-focused to deliver the right skills across the whole supply chain. They established that support is needed to upskill and reskill people with a wide range of experience and capabilities.

Innes Willox also recognised the need to re-cement apprenticeships as the bedrock of our education and training system. Finally, as representatives from some of the country’s leading industry organisations and unions, they saw the vital need for effective collaboration across industry, governments and both the higher and VET education sectors to achieve meaningful impacts.

The report recommends:

  • the development of advanced skills using the platform of work-based learning, including greater recognition of apprenticeships as pathways to higher qualifications and higher learning
  • more collaboration between the VET and Higher Education sectors and industry to create more synergistic skills development pathways
  • prioritising the reskilling and upgrading of skills of existing workers
  • allowing micro-credentials to be recognised across industry and easily incorporated into broader qualifications
  • extending apprenticeships in a nationally consistent manner to support the development of new occupational areas such as space and minerals processing
  • creating a national, forward-looking body to identify and support skills development for new and emerging industries
  • supporting sustainability and the circular economy by making energy efficiency skills more widely available within existing and new qualifications.

Read the report here.

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Anne joined Ai Group as an economist and is currently our General Manager, Education and Training. She is responsible for policy development and major projects addressing members’ education and training issues. Anne previously managed Ai Group's national team of Enterprise Connect Business Advisers charged with helping SMEs to improve productivity. Holding a Master of Education (Educational Leadership and Management) and a Bachelor of Economics, Anne worked for over 25 years in the VET sector in policy, research, training and quality management roles before joining Ai Group. She is a Board member of Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA).

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