In the room at the Advanced Manufacturing skills forum

James Riley
Editorial Director

The highly anticipated Advanced Manufacturing skills roundtable hosted by Industry minister Ed Husic attracted 22 leaders from business, industry growth centres, Cooperative Research Centres and the union movement.

The Advanced Manufacturing skills roundtable was one of six forums hosted by Mr Husic ahead of the invitation-only, 100 delegate national Jobs and Skills Summit being hosted next week in Canberra by the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers.

Reports from inside the room say the 90-minute discussion was congenial and informative, led by the minister and expertly facilitated by Industry, Science and Research acting deputy secretary Narelle Luchetti.

Ed Husic at the Advanced Manufacturing skills roundtable. Photo: LinkedIn

Although this was clearly a skills discussion, it included perspectives from large industry about cost pressures, mainly focused on energy and supply chains, and highlighting sovereign capability efforts.

Other speakers, including from the SME sector, industry associations, the union movement the cooperative research sector included discussion about the lack of certainty in government policy, and the confusing array of government programs randomly operating over the TRL (Technology Readiness Layer) scale.

Other issues brought up at the roundtable were around Valley of death financing challenges, skills shortages in key areas, public procurement issues and the absence of a coherent supporting ecosystem for manufacturing that exists other comparable advanced economies.

One common theme was a complaint about a lack of understanding, or awareness, of the role of manufacturing in an advanced economy like Australia. ‘Politicians going out in high-vis vests perpetuate an outmoded stereotype of manufacturing,’ was one comment.

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub chair Professor Roy Green presented a brief overview, focused on Australia’s narrow trade and our industrial structure – with its incumbent features lack of economic complexity, low productivity improvement and wage stagnation.

He pointed to Australia’s low level of R&D investment as a share of G&D and the need for an industrial transformation agenda that encompassed economic diversification, research collaboration and energy transition.

Mr Husic indicated an interest in developing a ‘tripartite structure’ in his portfolio – of industry, universities/research and government – for priority setting and implementation and said he would be working on this with the assistance of Prof Roy Green.

A further roundtable is scheduled for ‘heavy industry’ in Canberra on Tuesday, hosted by Assistant Minister for Manufacturing & Trade Tim Ayres and facilitated by Prof Roy Green.

The chief executive of the METS Ignited industry growth centre Adrian Beer said that while a large focus was rightly on the skills gaps, including training programs and greater co-ordination, there remained a real challenge in showcasing the capability that Australia already has, and to highlight the potential for growth that exists.

As a nation we need a much more consistent long-term strategic commitment to build innovation, technology, and manufacturing capability in Australia,” Mr Beer said.

“With Minister Husic’s intention to do “more onshore”, it was valuable to hear from existing manufacturers about what they need – help on our visa programs and skills migration, R&D tax incentives, accelerated depreciation schedules,” he said.

The people in the room at the Advanced Manufacturing skills roundtable:

  • Narelle Luchetti, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Industry, Science and Research (chair)
  • Adrian Beer – Chief Executive Officer, Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Ignited
  • Dr Sam Bucolo – Chief Executive Officer, Australian Design Council
  • David Chuter – Chief Executive Officer, Innovative Manufacturing CRC
  • Mark De Wit – Chief Executive Officer, VISY Industries
  • Dr Jens Goennemann – Managing Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC)
  • Professor Roy Green – Chair, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub (ARMHUB)
  • Dig Howitt – Chief Executive Officer, Cochlear
  • Romilly Madew – Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Australia
  • Melina Morrison – Chief Executive Officer, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM)
  • Steve Murphy – National Secretary, Australian Manufacturers Workers’ Union
  • Michael O’Connor – National Secretary, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU): Manufacturing Division
  • Rebecca Roberts – General Manager People, BlueScope Steel Australia
  • Dr Marcus Zipper – Director, CSIRO Manufacturing Business Unit
  • Kane Thornton – Chief Executive Officer, Clean Energy Council
  • Ainsley Barahona Santos, – General Manager People & Capability, Cement Australia
  • Dr Andrea Douglas – Vice-President of Strategic Industry Engagement, CSL
  • Ben Eade – Chief Executive Officer, Manufacturing Australia
  • Katie Hodgson– Chief People Officer, Treasury Wine Estates
  • Kerrin Petty – Chief Supply Officer, Treasury Wine Estates
  • Jane Hunter – Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Tritium
  • Megan Lilly – Head of Education and Training, Ai Group
  • Keith Ritchie – Head of Communication and Government Affairs, Siemens

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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