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Focus on Your People

Manufacturing in Australia - Compete or Die
by Ray Earl MEI

Focusing on the Core Resource, you're People
The manufacturing industry in Australia employs over one million people in all sectors.

Over the last decade manufacturing’s share of the economy has declined with dwindling employment as an outcome. Manufacturing now accounts in dollar terms for 12.5% of national output, in the 1960s manufacturing accounted for 25%.

There are a number of key reasons for these changes in the manufacturing sector, some are listed below:

  1. The growth of imports from lower-wage countries
  2. Skill shortages with an aging workforce
  3. Imports from more competitive offshore companies
  4. Manufacturing spends less on structured training than any other industry

The author has seen many companies who have not valued education of staff as of primary importance and the corollary was a company with inefficient staff, blown out lead times, low product quality and increased cost of goods, the bottom line was a cash flow in the red and a company with no competitive advantage. Some of these businesses are now defunct.

Its not brain surgery, people are your most valuable asset. Australian companies who wish to strive for competitive advantage need to take a long hard look at their staff development systems (or lack of) and take immediate action.

The economic prosperity increasingly relies on the future value of education in this sector. To be a more competitive business, there is a need to maintain and develop the skills of the existing workforce; this will be the basis for continuing innovation and growth in your company.

There are many ways to develop your staff, one method is to source a professional training and development consultant with experience in your industry (this has a major cost impost), another method is to seek Government assistance:

The Commonwealth Government sees skill shortages as a major issue and provides financial incentives for companies who give their staff the opportunity to complete a traineeship or apprenticeship. The employee will receive practical on-the-job leading-edge training from a registered training organisation and the outcome will be an increase in staff productivity, staff morale, motivation and increase the company’s bottom line.

If Australian manufacturing companies want to keep pace with the rest of the World, they must ensure training is a vital ingredient in their development strategies. This will help to ensure the future of their organisations and Australia’s economic growth.

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