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.”
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:
- Dr Andreas Cebulla, Associate Professor in the Future of Work at the Flinders University Australian Industrial Transformation Institute;
- Dr Ruchi Sinha, an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the University of South Australia Business School;
- Dr Charlie Hargroves, a Senior Lecturer with the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) at the Adelaide Business School;
- Dr Paul Wang, a Senior Bioinformatician at the South Australian Genomics Centre (SAGC), at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
The full forum is available below.