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AIS Skills Forum – 2017

Participants at the AIS Skills Forum explored the likely changes to skills and job roles related to the changing world of work. Discussions about the potential impact of global disrupters including new technologies, globalisation, and other significant cross-sectoral industry trends on the skills required were a key feature of the day.

The leaders from the 11 Industry Reference Committees (IRC) supported by AIS attended the Skills Forum representing the aviation, transport and logistics, maritime, energy, water and utilities, public safety, police, fire, defence and corrections industries. Collectively these IRCs cover more than 1.3 million workers or almost 10% of the Australian workforce.  More significantly, these workers add $174 billion to the Australian Economy – or 11% of GDP.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, provided a video introduction to the Skills Forum focusing on the crucial role of Vocational Education and Training (VET) as Australia’s economy undergoes rapid change and technology alters the nature of work, and the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to strengthening the VET system to meet the skills challenges ahead.

Welcoming the participants, AIS Chairman, Laurie D’Apice said that AIS was committed to creating opportunities for bringing industry, government, RTOs and the workforce together to create long-term solutions that bridge the gap between skills supply and demand in these vitally important industries.

“What is apparent, is not how different your industries are, but how similar many of their challenges are. These cross-sector trends include automation, ageing workforce, digitalisation, Big-Data and the Internet of Things” said Mr D’Apice.

ABC personality Virginia Trioli was the MC for the event which featured respected speakers who presented their insights around game-changing business and economic trends, the new wave of disrupters, and their potential impact on new, evolving and converging job roles and skills.

Each speaker spoke with real passion about Australia’s workforce of the future with many common themes emerging throughout the day.  The overwhelmingly clear message was the need for us to work collaboratively, be adaptable and not be afraid of change.

Phil Ruthven, Founder and Director of IBIS World, presented a big picture analysis of the Australian economy into the 2020s, and wide-ranging views on our changing industry mix, new age technologies, the labour market and the challenges for education and training.

He noted that whilst the digital era is eliminating or reducing some industries and jobs, it is enabling the creation of many more than it wipes out.

Tara Diamond, of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), told the forum of the growing need for an adaptable, flexible workforce with transferrable skills. She also congratulated AIS for holding the future focused Skills Forum explaining that the AISC believe “the exchange of ideas about skill needs is vital for preparing for the changing nature of work and ensuring business is well placed to meet the needs of the future.”

AIS Chief Operating Officer, Paul Walsh presented an informative session on the key outcomes already achieved by IRC through their Training Package Development activities.  The case studies outlined examples of IRCs responding to emerging technological change (Battery Storage Systems), regulatory change (Maritime), cross-sector skills (Supply Chains, Drones) and the application of the key foundations of the Australian VET system in a series of international skills projects that AIS has managed.

Anne Flynn, on behalf of the Department of Education and Training, thanked AIS for providing a great opportunity for stakeholders to build on the strength of the current VET system and deliver the skills that industry needs. “Pro-active Training Package development in a dynamic environment of new and disruptive technologies will pay dividends for individuals, industry, national competitiveness and productivity.” Anne evidenced the work done by the Electrotechnology IRC to develop new battery storage Units of Competency as a great example of the responsiveness of the VET system and industry.

Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Editor, Money, at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, spoke of the positive impact of change, how to prepare for the jobs of the future through life-long learning, with an emphasis on the increasing importance of the development of soft skills.

The forum also included a Skills Roundtable where a broad range of VET related topics were explored, including the potential for cross industry skills and a collaborative approach to qualification design. Participants shared insights into disrupters in their industry sectors and ideas for strengthening the VET system.

In summing up the roundtable discussion, Mark McKenzie, Chair of the Transport and Logistics IRC, said the forum had highlighted that “VET has a vital role to play in helping manage the risks of disruption, by ensuring Training Packages empower our workforce to capitalise on opportunities and enhance our competitiveness.”

The CEO of AIS, Robert Adams, said the forum had been an outstanding success. “There is clearly a thirst for knowledge about the impact of new technologies on skills and workforce development and raising productivity and sustainability. There is much to be gained through cross industry collaboration and the sharing of experiences and insights”

Steve Sammartino, best-selling author of The Great Fragmentation, a business manifesto for the technology revolution, entertained guests at the Forum dinner with entertaining and thought-provoking insights into what business must learn from the technology sector to avoid disruption.

The last word goes to Caitlin Fitzimmons “The future will be different but not something to fear. There is time to prepare and time to adjust.”

To view the AIS Forum media release, click here.