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Advancing manufacturing in Queensland beyond 2021

Ms Donna Bonney

Advanced manufacturing is a journey. It is supported by technology and underpinned by a skilled workforce that is agile and innovative. The industry needs to nurture a culture that embraces change and diversity.

In February 2018, Jobs Queensland released Advancing Manufacturing Skills A Skills, Training and Workforce Development Strategy for the Manufacturing Industry in Queensland (the Strategy). The Strategy identified 10 priority action areas requiring collaboration by industry and government to support the industry’s transition to advanced manufacturing, often referred to as Industry 4.0.

As we come to the end of 2021 and reflect on the interval since the publication of the Strategy, much has changed for Queensland manufacturers. While the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still emerging, there are clear signs to support the recovery and growth of manufacturing in the state.

Manufacturing remains crucial to Queensland’s economy and is key to the State’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Because of this, the Queensland Government is establishing Manufacturing Skills Queensland as a key body to support manufacturing to seize emerging opportunities. Key to taking advantage of opportunities will be the transition to advanced manufacturing.

It is in this context that Jobs Queensland has revisited the Strategy to test if its findings remain relevant today. We have found that, while some things have changed, much remains the same. COVID-19 accelerated the transition to advanced manufacturing for some manufacturers as they took advantage of opportunities that arose.

We found that the 10 priority action areas put forward in the original report remain relevant. Some of the priority action areas were being implemented before COVID-19 disrupted the process. It is important that implementation of all priority action areas continues to support the industry into the future.

The industry continues to experience labour and skills shortages. These shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic because of border closures that has restricted labour movement. Building a strong talent pipeline is an immediate priority for the industry.

Apprenticeships remain the primary pathway into the industry and the pathway is consistently valued by employers. More needs to be done to encourage youth and people from diverse cohorts to consider manufacturing careers.

However, the skills needed by the industry are changing and access to further training post-apprenticeship is important. Higher-level apprenticeships and collaboration between industry and the education and training sector will be key to meeting this need.

Jobs Queensland is partnering with the Australian Cobotics Centre at the Queensland University of Technology to understand the skills and capability needs of manufacturers transitioning to advanced manufacturing. We look forward to sharing this research and many other insights into Queensland’s workforce in 2022.

Donna Bonney
Jobs Queensland Chair

Last updated 14 January 2022