In a rapidly evolving global landscape, it is not surprising that there is a worldwide preoccupation with the future of jobs.
In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.
By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
In a speech to a major Future of Work forum in Melbourne on March 16, Chairman of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, John Pollaers, said that increasing digitisation and globalisation – the so-called 4th industrial revolution or Industrie 4.0 – was an opportunity for Australian manufacturing.
“All these developments enable greater flexibility at the level of the factory and the entire manufacturing system,” he said.
“Scale remains extremely important – but will become increasingly distributed.
There will be greater reliance on smaller-scale manufacturing plants, and on micro-factories.
Developing our talent
“What this highlights is the need to continually focus our efforts on talent development and the development of our business capabilities in Australia – in order to capture the highest value globally,” he said.
With a much-needed national focus on diversifying the drivers in the Australian economy, in particular through advanced manufacturing and gaining access to high value global supply chains, policymakers and the wider community had begun to understand that Australia can compete, he said.
“And we can win,” he said.
He said three developments just in the past month had highlighted this.
First was the announcement by Cochlear, the makers of the bionic ear, of a record 32 per cent profit jump to $94 million – for the six months to the end of December 2015.
Cochlear CEO, Chris Smith, attributed the strong performance to both market growth and strong uptake of its unique Nucleus Profile implant.
The second was the story of Australia’s vitamins, health supplements and baby formula sector.
Australia’s reputation as clean and green, and the integrity of our regulatory system, as well as strong management and marketing, had meant a bonanza for many of these companies.
In late February, the 1000 staff working for Blackmores were promised a bonus of 4½ weeks’ pay and shareholders were rewarded with a near tripling of its interim dividend after the vitamins maker delivered soaring profits, built largely on huge demand from China.
The third was the groundbreaking achievement of a small company in inner Melbourne, Anatomics, a manufacturer of surgical implants. The company had successfully developed world-first technology that helped surgeons replace cancerous vertebrae in a Sydney patient.
The Future of Work Forum, convened by the Centre for Workplace Leadership and the Fair Work Commission, brought together leading business, union and academic speakers to consider some of the challenges and opportunities facing manufacturing – and how global changes are likely to affect the nature of industry.
The event included keynote presentations from Göran Roos, Chair of the Value Add and Industrial Growth Sub-Committee of the Economic Development Board South Australia; John Pollaers, Chairman, Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council; Dennis Glover, Author, speechwriter and Fellow of Per Capita; and Ross Pilling, Chairman & Managing Director of BASF Australia Ltd.
The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Workplace Leadership will host a further Future of Work Forum on 20-21 April