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Reskilling the manufacturing workforce and developing capabilities for the future


Penesis, I and Katersky Barnes, R and Kilpatrick, S and Symes, M and Leon de la Barra, BA, Reskilling the manufacturing workforce and developing capabilities for the future, Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 4-7 December 2016, Coffs Harbour, Australia, pp. 647-656. ISBN 978-0-9941520-4-6 (2016) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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Context: Innovative economies require a workforce with a high level of technical skills and scientific awareness, yet worldwide there is a decline in the number of students participating in pre university science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Australia’s graduation rates in STEM fields are low by international comparison, providing challenges in meeting qualified workforce needs. Australia’s future in the next three to five years depends on a stronger workforce with more qualified engineers and associated professionals with high level skills who are capable of meeting the needs of growing industries such as advanced manufacturing and the maritime sector.

Purpose: This project identified the mismatch between current skills and future needs from a literature review and through interviews with Tasmanian industry stakeholders. It reflected on existing pathways and the changes required for ensuring that future skills needs are met.

Approach: Qualitative data on current skills and future skill needs were collected through semi-structured interviews with individual companies in the manufacturing, advanced manufacturing and maritime/marine industries in Tasmania. The companies selected for interview were either members of the Tasmanian Maritime Network or considered to be in growth industries or industries of importance for Tasmania. Companies were selected to ensure a mix of size, age of company and diversity within the industry.

Results: A major learning from this project was that there are common needs amongst the manufacturing, advanced manufacturing and maritime/marine industries for future skills despite the diversity of industries. The fundamental skills identified by industry for continued growth and effective management included basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, problem-solving, work ethic, IT, leadership and management including the need for staff to be multi-skilled. Technology is ever-changing and technology based skills for specific industries will also drive training needs for the future. Issues raised by industry included: retirement of the ageing workforce in these industries which will create a skills gap if industry does not address training and progression of existing staff; training providers were not necessarily offering the required training and therefore all companies offered some form of in-house training for specialty skills; and that the lack of higher level Vocational Education and Training (VET) in manufacturing, advanced manufacturing and engineering has left a gap of skilled staff in Tasmania.

Discussion and Conclusions: The results of this study clearly indicate that there is a need for VET and Higher Education (HE) to be flexible in their course offerings, and maintain a close relationship with industry (and with each other) to promote skills transfer between the sectors. This will ensure that the education and training sector remains relevant to meet the needs of employers, delivering consistent and quality learning outcomes. In addition, a close relationship will create a culture of communication and collaboration underpinned by mutual understanding of industry and education and training sector needs, possibilities and constraints.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:future skills, skills gap, education and training, STEM, VET, HE
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Workforce transition and employment
UTAS Author:Penesis, I (Professor Irene Penesis)
UTAS Author:Katersky Barnes, R (Dr Robin Katersky Barnes)
UTAS Author:Kilpatrick, S (Professor Sue Kilpatrick)
UTAS Author:Symes, M (Mr Mark Symes)
UTAS Author:Leon de la Barra, BA (Dr Bernardo Leon de la Barra)
ID Code:113633
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:NC Maritime Engineering and Hydrodynamics
Deposited On:2017-01-10
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:192 View Download Statistics

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