While an emphasis still exists on attaining a bachelor’s degree, the return to hands-on skills and the benefits of trades both as a viable income source, an essential building block of society and as a respected career is becoming more mainstream and efforts to introduce secondary school students to a variety of career paths is succeeding.
Two gaps are appearing as the baby boomers retire in droves. Those with irreplaceable skills haven’t had an opportunity to pass them on, as the incoming generations chose university pathways over industry skills. Simultaneously, many of the positions baby boomers hold are now obsolete, replaced by technology and automation that is prominent in Industry 4.0. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of jobs. It simply means these jobs exist in a different capacity, introducing new skills applicable to an evolving workplace.
For the manufacturing industry this presents a major problem, not enough skilled workers to go around. And with increasing demand for production and the high cost of investments associated with new technologies, it’s essential that businesses are supported by skilled and passionate workers.
Australia is hitting the alarming skills shortage in manufacturing face on, by offering various incentives for entry into industry education and promoting the importance of manufacturing to our way of life. Government incentives have existed in Queensland for years and New South Wales and Victoria are going one step further, offering various free TAFE courses and pre-apprenticeship courses, giving incoming students a head-start in growing industries.
CAD/CAM courses are included in a variety of educational programs, from Bachelor of Engineering degrees at Swinburne to Manufacturing and Design courses at TAFE QLD to a variety of short courses aimed at beginners or those looking to upskill.
Specified education isn’t the only pathway. Apprentices need to be supported by the experts already working in the industry so that on-the-job training helps to reduce the drop-out rate and facilitates the passage of niche knowledge that can’t be taught in the classroom. Providing retiring experts with the option to slowly phase into retirement with flexible working hours and a gradual decrease in responsibility, keeps their invaluable skills in the industry longer with the opportunity to pass on their knowledge to the incoming workforce.
Manufacturing is heading towards growth and advancement demanded by a growing population with a higher quality and longevity of life. To meet these demands and support individuals in their own growth and development, it is essential that the manufacturing workforce is made up of skilled and passionate workers who are looking to grow with the industry and are eager to pass on their knowledge to the next generation.