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In preparing the 2019 Skills Forecasts, we examined thirty years of employment data for each industry AIS supports. This analysis, along with other research and consultation, identified the following cross-sector trends that are influencing skill demand.
The Disrupters: new technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and automation
New technologies and automation are transforming how industries conduct their daily operations. Smart devices connected to digital networks, sensors and software generate a massive volume of data. Clever use of ‘Big Data’ can help lift productivity and service standards, for example by providing insights into customer behaviour. It is also driving breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). The Internet of Things, a connected network of digital devices, is enabling remote operations, improving efficiency and lowering costs. The rate of automation is also increasing, with more use of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles and systems in Australia. Industry is using drones to conduct asset inspections, collect data, perform maintenance and diagnostic services, and monitor operations. Meanwhile robots are being deployed to undertake hazardous tasks, thus eradicating human exposure to dangers in high-risk areas.
Effective implementation of these technologies requires a digitally competent workforce with skills ranging from basic ICT knowledge to expertise in manipulating and interpreting data and deploying technologies to meet enterprise and customer expectations.
With so much economic activity now digitised, Australia’s infrastructure and business operations are exposed to cyber threats. Weak cyber security can have catastrophic impacts on the economy and become a substantial barrier to the implementation of emerging technology. Businesses need to raise awareness about these threats and have proper procedures to identify, block or remediate any malicious attacks. Industries recognise the importance of introducing tailored cyber security training programs to inform their workforce of the risks and to give them the skills and competencies to be able to resolve them.
The advent of disruptive technologies creates demand not only for technical and digital skills but also for soft skills. Teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, emotional intelligence and creativity are attributes that will equip people to explore the new technologies and use them effectively in the workplace. Along with these soft skills, lifelong learning plays a key role in having an agile workforce prepared for the future.
Workforce profile and staff retention
Most industries that AIS consulted on behalf of IRCs cited an ageing workforce as one of the top three reasons for current skills shortages. They are addressing the issue through succession planning, workforce development, mentoring and other knowledge-sharing initiatives. Industry recognises that older workers must be upskilled and empowered to navigate technological changes and new workers must be suitably trained and mentored to guard against the loss of vital industry knowledge. The advent of new technologies also provides the opportunity to recruit a younger and more gender-balanced workforce.
Australia remains committed to reducing its CO2 emissions in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. Many industries are accordingly implementing plans, policies, technologies and systems that reduce their environmental impact. The growing adoption of, and investment in, renewables can help Australia achieve its goals.
Shortage of trainers and instructors
Most of the industries AIS supports have identified the availability of qualified trainers/instructors with practical experience as a significant skills shortage. Given the projection of a growing workforce across different industries, access to quality training is vital.
View your industry 2019 Skills Forecast here.