It is obvious Australia needs a world class technical and vocational education system, Gerry Ryan, Managing Director, of Jayco Corporation, said in his keynote address to the Energise Enterprise business breakfast launch, in Melbourne on Thursday, June 8.
The founder of Australias biggest recreational vehicle manufacturer said Australia must invest more in its long-term future. Much more!
From a manufacturers point of view, I would like to see an overhaul of the Commonwealths Research and Development programs, he said.
Many industries are suffering critical skills shortages, Gerry Ryan said. The reason was, he said, that Australia does not have a world class technical and vocational education system. Yet it is obvious Australia needs one.
Manufacturing in Australia has become a much tougher game over the past 20 years. Protection has been phased out. Global competition is intensifying and is particularly fierce in manufactured goods, he said.
As everyone knows, there has been a surge of cheap imports into Australia ─ reshaping industries like the furniture and metal trades and resulting in large job losses in the manufacturing sector ─ some 30,000 last year. Possibly 40,000 this year, he said.
Fortunately at Jayco, were bucking the trend growing our work-force, not laying-off our employees! he said.
But were still facing tough competition from imported product, especially from Europe and U.S. And its likely to be Asia next.
Ive just got back from China, and I can tell you their success in manufacturing is not only due to their pool of cheap labour.
Its also due to their huge investment in education and training. The number of engineers theyre producing each year is staggering.
Its also due to advanced technologies and production systems their firms are installing. And its due to their culture and their values. And I mean that in a positive way! Gerry Ryan said
The Chinese have business drive and a strong work ethic, he said.
Little wonder then, many international firms are voting with their feet, and relocating there. These days, its pretty easy to head offshore.
Gerry Ryan said stay-at-home manufacturers like Jayco ─ who choose to re-invest their dollars in Australia need to accept the fact that the global market begins on the factory floor, not at the factory gate.
We need competitively priced, high quality components, sourced globally where necessary. And our employees need the capabilities to compete with their counterparts overseas. They need the best tools and technologies available, Gerry Ryan said.
They also need the capacity and the encouragement to engage in life-long learning and skills development.
He said many industries are suffering critical skills shortages because Australia does not have a world class technical and vocational education system. Yet it is obvious Australia needs one.
In my view, this ought to be a national priority, Gerry Ryan said.
There is real scope for more effective partnerships to create such a system ─ between governments, and between the public and private sectors. We also need to get serious about innovation, he said.
Theres too much talk, and not enough action! There needs to be a bit more urgency. And a lot more long-term thinking.
We should be thinking in a 10 year time-frame. Not two or three years. Other countries are doing it. Australia simply cant afford not to do it, Gerry Ryan said.
From a manufacturers point of view, I would like to see an overhaul of the Commonwealths RD programs.
They need to be more accessible and relevant to firms, particularly small and medium-sized firms.
We also need to get serious about our national transport infrastructure. Impediments to doing business just drive up costs! Its as simple as that and the community pays, he said.
The Jayco Corporation, Australias oldest and largest recreational vehicle manufacturer, will build a new national headquarters and state-of-the-art industrial complex at Lyndhurst, Victoria.
The announcement was made on the site of the new complex, by the Victorian Minister for State and Regional Development John Brumby.
The $35 million project is a vote of confidence in Australian manufacturing and a vote of confidence in the companys future, Gerry Ryan said.
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