Home Business Skill loss endangers Australian manufacturing industry- report

Skill loss endangers Australian manufacturing industry- report

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A newly built high-end construction material production line is being tested in an industrial park in Yantai, east China's Shandong province, Feb. 20, 2023. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's purchasing manager index for the manufacturing sector rose to 52.6 percent in February, 2.5 percentage points higher from a month ago and the highest since May 2012. (Photo by Tang Ke/People's Daily Online)
A newly built high-end construction material production line is being tested in an industrial park in Yantai, east China's Shandong province, Feb. 20, 2023. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's purchasing manager index for the manufacturing sector rose to 52.6 percent in February, 2.5 percentage points higher from a month ago and the highest since May 2012. (Photo by Tang Ke/People's Daily Online)

Australia’s manufacturing industry is under threat from a generational loss of skills and expertise, research has warned.

In a study published on Thursday, researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) found that a decline in craft skills in employment since 2006 has been exacerbated by some manufacturers moving their operations offshore, causing a loss of knowledge that threatens Australia’s ability to sustain a local manufacturing industry.

“The biggest threat to Australia’s making economy is its ageing workforce. Australia benefited hugely from trade-skills migration in the decades following WW2 and up until the 1980s we had a strong domestic manufacturing sector,” Susan Luckman, author of the study and director of the Creative Peoples, Products and Places Research Center at UniSA, said in a media release.

“Subsequent offshoring of manufacturing has meant that craft skills have not been sustained and replenished in the Australian workforce.”

According to data from the Australian Census, the portion of the Australian workforce who were employed in manufacturing fell from 10.7 percent in 2006 to 6.2 percent in 2021.

In 2022, the World Bank reported that manufacturing accounted for 5.4 percent of Australia’s gross domestic product, down from 13.7 percent in 1990.

The federal government in March established the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF), which will oversee 15 billion Australian dollars (10 billion U.S. dollars) of investment in manufacturing to support long-term sustainable growth in the sector.

Luckman said that in order for Australia to successfully revitalize its manufacturing industry digital technologies must be used to “revolutionize” the sector.

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