Australian Manufacturing Leaders Responded to a ‘Future Made in Australia’

Australia’s key influencers in manufacturing recently came together to talk about solutions to the current workforce shortage.

The Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance (Manufacturing Alliance), the Jobs and Skills Council for the manufacturing sector, held the National Manufacturing Workforce Forum on 16 April in Melbourne. This pivotal event was dedicated to advancing solutions for workforce challenges in manufacturing to meet growing needs, a timely conversation given the recent announcement by Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese to create the Future Made in Australia Act. 

The Forum was a milestone on the path towards rebuilding a proud manufacturing industry and building a future made right here in Australia. Distinguished speakers included The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training, The Hon Gayle Tierney MP, Victorian Minister for Skills and TAFE, Liam O’Brien, Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and Innes Willox AM, Chief Executive of the Ai Group. 

Acknowledging the need for this conversation, Skills and Training Minister, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP noted that when Labor came to government “we faced the most significant skills shortage in half a century. At the same time our economy is undergoing the most rapid transformation in history. We have made good progress but given the scale of the challenge there is much left to do.”

Attendees participated in discussions on actionable strategies to address the need for a skilled labour force, paving the way for substantial progress in manufacturing self-sufficiency and innovation. This event continued the concerted industry-wide effort to respond to the call for increasing Australia’s sovereign capability, ensuring the sector’s growth and competitiveness on a global scale.  

A panel of apprentices and a separate panel of employers both agreed that greater transparency about job details could boost apprentice numbers. Several employers emphasised the importance of engaging with schools as a critical factor for attracting more apprentices, noting that ongoing education enhances continual involvement.

Sharon Robertson, CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance, said, “The Forum was a crucial gathering for industry leaders to map out collaborative efforts towards augmenting the pool of skilled workers for the manufacturing sector, an important component in achieving the government’s objectives for a robust, independent manufacturing sector.” Ms Robertson advised, “it was also the perfect platform for a conversation that will propel us to the next stage of our work.

The Manufacturing Alliance will release its 2024 Workforce Plan incorporating the feedback received at the Forum, in the coming months. 


"The Forum was the perfect platform for a conversation that will propel us to the next stage of our work."

Sharon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance

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