Report

Digital Skills in Manufacturing – Australia is falling behind in its digital competiveness and education and training report says

While every attempt has been made to identify research on specific digital skills needed in manufacturing and related industries, this review has identified that (a) there is little research available on specific digital skills in these industries and (b) even research aimed at identifying the impact of digital changes to manufacturing processes tends to identify a need for a broader set of skills for future success – rather than singling out specific digital skills. This focus on the need for a broad range of higher level thinking skills, more soft skills and creativity and design thinking were consistently echoed by participants in the consultations which supported this project.

The fourth industrial revolution is rapidly changing the world of work and broader society. The evidence is that the pace and nature of change is more profound than any previous period of change. Australian businesses are realising the need to invest in digital technologies but are still doing so at what appears a relatively low rate. As a consequence Australia is falling behind in its digital competiveness and education and training is a key drag on our ability to compete.

While there is a need for speci c new skills to accommodate technological change, these typically have only a very short life cycle. Being able to accurately predict new skills and make them available to education providers in a timely manner is a signi cant challenge. It was noted during the consultations underpinning this project that universities self-accrediting powers allow them to o er new courses in a ma er of weeks rather than the much longer lead times required in the VET sector.

In addition to the challenges in making specific new technical skills available quickly in the VET sector, the consistent view from the research and the consultations was that there is a need for a wider range of skills (beyond the sector’s current notion of employability skills) required for workers to adapt and thrive in an Industry 4.0 environment.

Other countries are making signi cant changes to their VET systems to ensure they can deliver the workers of the future. It is recommended that further work be done in the Australian VET system to determine how Training Packages can continue to meet the needs of the workforce as Industry 4.0 introduces profound change to manufacturing and related industries.

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