Imagination at heart of skills crisis says Minister

Cosmos Magazine


Cosmos is a quarterly science magazine. We aim to inspire curiosity in ‘The Science of Everything’ and make the world of science accessible to everyone.

By Cosmos

Australia is facing one of the worst skills crises in the nation’s history, a conference in Adelaide has heard.

“If the pandemic taught us anything,” said Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, “it’s that building sovereign capability is vital.”

The Minister was speaking via recorded message at the Cosmos Science City “Jobs of the Future” public forum which discussed among other thing, AI, technology, work practices and workplace culture.

“All of you would be familiar with the work of Carl Sagan, the astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist and TV host,” O’Connor told the audience. “Sagan’s legacy includes encouraging scientists to dream and discover.

“Imagination, he once said, will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it, we go nowhere.

“Imagination is at the heart of the jobs of the future, and while it’s hard for any of us to precisely imagine what new skills are required beyond the near-term, the very process of imagining is what brings those new skills about.”

How one STEM school is building skills for the future

O’Connor says the government was shocked at the state of skills development when it came to power.

“Upon entering government last year, we inherited a massive skills crisis. The current skills priorities  shows that the occupations in shortage nearly doubled, jumping from 153 to 286 in only a year.

“To put it bluntly, we’re facing one of the worst skills crisis in our nation’s history.”

“You don’t need a crystal ball to know what we need more technical and scientific skills to successfully transform the economy to become net zero.

“More and more, we’re going to see the need for collaboration between our tertiary sectors, between VET and universities, functioning together.

“Skills requirements for jobs are evolving more and more. We need higher level of skills which combine both practical and knowledge-based skill acquisition.

“Boosting science and tech skills is not a nice to have. It is vital to building a stronger, more competitive nation and a stronger, more secure economy with greater opportunity for all.”

Other speakers at the forum were:

The full forum is available below.

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