Will Australia thrive in the next 40 years? Or is its future prosperity at risk?
That’s what the Australian National Outlook 2019 (ANO 2019) is all about.
The report, published by CSIRO in June, spells out the challenges, choices and likely consequences we face between now and 2060 that could disrupt Australia’s current conditions and influence our future.
It explains two contrasting scenarios – both plausible – of how things could develop over the next four decades:
- Slow decline – Australia muddles through, resisting change for as long as possible.
- Outlook vision– We bite the bullet, make much-needed policy changes and exploit the advantages of new technology and trading opportunities.
The overarching message is crystal clear: Australia’s future prosperity is at risk unless we take bold action and commit to long-term thinking.
But it’s worth looking at some of the deeper thinking behind the report. In particular, what do manufacturers need to do to influence Australia’s future?
Here are the key takeaways for manufacturers…
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Increase adoption of new technology
Increasing technology adoption will boost productivity in existing industries that have historically supported Australia’s growth, as well as new industries, according to the Outlook.
It recognises that additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) is already enabling manufacturers to produce complex, low-volume and high-margin products, and essentially become more competitive. (Check out this piece on additive manufacturing and food – is it science fiction or an untapped business opportunity?)
Now the focus is on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud-based geospatial technology. (We’ve actually been talking about AI and machine learning as trends manufacturers need to watch for a few years now)
How can manufacturers adopt these technologies to drive change?
Through collaboration. (Here’s an interesting piece on collaborative manufacturing – “reach out and reap”.)
The Outlook states that the complexity and the rapid rate of technological change means that collaboration is key to supporting technology adoption and giving businesses critical exposure to new technologies and skills.
Invest in your employees’ skills
The workforce of tomorrow is changing. Digital technologies are affecting jobs, causing a growing focus on data and digital skills.
How do you create a workforce that is prepared for the technology-enabled jobs of the future and can take full advantage of technological progression?
By taking an active role in upskilling and reskilling your workers.
In fact, the World Economic Forum’s latest jobs report, “The Future of Jobs 2018”, stresses that, with adaptation strategies in place, embracing technology means job creation will outweigh displacement.
According to the report, machines and algorithms in the workplace are expected to create 133 million new roles, while causing 75 million jobs to be displaced by 2022.
So what can you do now?
Look to the grants available to help upskill your workforce. For example, Victorian businesses can apply for grants from the Workforce Training Innovation Fund to upskill students to fit the needs of employers. (Does your business have the right manufacturing workforce skills for the future?)
Look to export opportunities in Asia
We need to talk about Asia.
Asia’s growth presents a significant opportunity for Australia. By 2030, the Asia-Pacific region is predicted to consume more than half the world’s food, 40% of its energy, and be home to two-thirds of the world’s middle class.
And Australia is right on its doorstep.
All manufacturers need to do is make sure they are offering premium quality products to take advantage of these opportunities. Because if they don’t, other countries will be only too happy to step in.
Save energy wherever you can
Unsurprisingly, one of the major challenges identified by the report is climate change, the environment and loss of biodiversity.
The food manufacturing industry alone pays a massive $706 million a year on electricity bills – that’s 17% of the entire manufacturing industry’s energy expenditure.
That puts food manufacturers second only to the mining industry as the biggest energy spenders.
Investing in energy efficient machinery is one solution. But you can start by making sure the equipment you already have is working to its maximum efficiency through preventative maintenance.
No doubt about it – trust in governments, businesses, and the media has plummeted in recent years.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, trust in brands is down, and expectations of social responsibility from brands is up among consumers globally.
Here’s another important finding from the survey: trust is almost as important to consumers as quality and value.
Brand trust was ranked as one of the top factors that consumers consider when making a purchase.
With a growing number of cases food fraud and contamination, manufacturers have some work to do to rebuild trust.
This goes hand-in-hand with technology adoption.
For example, blockchain can create a time-stamped ledger of a food’s journey from paddock to plate, playing a major role in the safety and traceability of branded food.
What now for the Australian national outlook?
These are just a few takeaways from the Australian National Outlook, but the message is clear: manufacturers are in the driving seat when it comes to change. It might be daunting, but taking small steps can ensure Australia is moving toward the right future scenario.
Want to read more future trends? This article by Dr Angeline Achariya, CEO, Monash Food Innovation Centre, delves into the future of food and some inconvenient truths.
To talk about how technology adoption can help propel your business forward, and improve the Australian national outlook, talk to our experts.
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Connect with us here for insights and tailored information for Australian makers & movers, domestically and on the global stage.
Image credits: iStock/ RichVintage (main)