Infrastructure, Energy & MaterialsOctober 26, 2018

Cross-fertilisation of industry skills essential for Australian business growth

Here is an excerpt of an editorial contribution to Australian Defence Magazine. The…
Avatar Narayan Sreenivasan

Here is an excerpt of an editorial contribution to Australian Defence Magazine. The full article can be viewed at

The recent Workforce Development Needs Survey Report 2018 conducted by the Australian Industry Group (AIG) raised a significant red flag about the lack of digital skills within the current Australian workforce.

The AIG stressed that it was the first time that its annual survey had highlighted a shortage of skills in this area, specifically around ‘skills in business automation, Big Data and artificial intelligence solutions’.

In reality, many Australian employees do have excellent digital skills, but those skills are too specific to one particular industry and not easily adaptable. As the face of manufacturing in Australia continues to evolve rapidly, it is imperative that our digital skills become more broad and agile.

Placing a strong focus on digital skills is vital for business growth

Due to the rapid innovation growth in technology, there is a significant rise in demand for individuals with higher-level technical skills, coupled with the ability to apply these skills to new, emerging and as yet unknown markets.

Pundits now tell us that the average employee will change careers five to seven times during their working life.

Whilst a greater percentage of Australian employers are increasing their training expenditure, even more need to be proactive and committed to investing in upskilling, regardless of economic factors in order to capitalise on future opportunities.

Placing a strong focus on digital skills now by all industries is vital for business growth and remaining globally competitive. And the opportunity doesn’t just belong to large industries or organisations.

South Australia’s Virtual Shipyard training program – an example of practical forward thinking.

For example, in South Australia, the Virtual Shipyard training program – an Australian-first program led by the South Australian Government in partnership with the Australian Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre – is a current example of practical forward thinking.

The program is positioning South Australia’s supply-chain to take advantage of the wealth of defence shipbuilding opportunities that will become available in South Australia from 2020, through projects including the Future Frigates and Future Submarines.

14 local companies are currently being supported in developing the digital capabilities used worldwide to test construction, manage the entire lifecycle of projects and link companies in to the supply chains of prime contractors to enable them to compete for major defence work.

Australia is in a perfect position to be a front-runner when it comes to upskilling our digital workforce. We are uniquely positioned to serve both the demands of a promising – if limited – domestic market, whilst also looking at building our international reach and capabilities.

We must focus now on driving our sustainable knowledge economy and fully utilising the opportunity and the appetite for digital transformation for our existing and future workforces.

If we don’t, we risk the Australian workforce being left behind and other global players stepping in to take up the slack.

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