How is manufacturing changing in 2017? Fortunately, things are looking up.
“After years of downsizing and pessimism, there are encouraging signs that manufacturing industry in Australia may be turning a corner. Employment and new orders have grown. Business optimism is improving. And Australians still firmly believe that a healthy manufacturing sector is crucial to national prosperity (Manufacturing Matters, 2017).”
The National Summit on the future of manufacturing in Australia has just been held at Australian Parliament House in Canberra. Associate Professor Jenny Cameron was fortunate enough to be one of the delegates at the Summit. The Summit gathered experts from policy, industry, higher education and the media to consider the revived, innovative and positive future for manufacturing in Australia that has fortunately turned a corner from the struggles it had been facing.
Experts also thought-out barriers to future growth in the industry, how manufacturing is perceived and ways to further propel the industry forward. Changing trade patterns, commodity prices and exchange rates have encouraged manufacturers to take advantage of these changes which has led to greater employment and future prospects in the sector.
Jenny was delighted to find that many of the themes discussed at the summit were consistent with the findings from her Australian Research Council Discovery project. These themes include a focus on niche and high-quality production, the emphasis on customers, and the growing role of after-sales servicing.
The Summit was organised by The Australia Institute and Centre for Future Work and was attended by politicians from across the political spectrum, including Senator the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO (Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science), Senator Kim Carr (Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research), Senator Nick Xenophon and Senator Lee Rhiannon.
If you are interested in our economy, it’s worth reading the new briefing paper Manufacturing: A Moment of Opportunity which discusses other promising signs and the cautious optimism for our manufactured future.