National Manufacturing Week 2014 opened this morning, with keynote speaker Professor Ian Chubb
reminding the event of the industry’s dependence on science skills.
chief scientist since 2011, noted that manufacturing trade shows had a long history,
citing the Great Exhibition in 1851 at London’s Crystal Palace.
there were 6 million people at that time,” said Chubb. “They went to see the
best of what manufacturers across the world can produce. There were useful
inventions, such as the steam engine and the hydraulic press.
there were the innovations that time forgot,” said Chubb. “One of which was the
collapsible purse. And probably more intriguingly there was the folding piano.”
point was that times had changed and would always do so, and manufacturers had
to also adapt or see what they do become irrelevant.
what hasn’t changed has been the inseparable link between manufacturing and the
state of the science. Manufacturing is a business with innovation and progress
at its core. It demands advanced capabilities and it fosters them in turn. And
it moves with the speed of human invention.”
nexus between STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) and
manufacturing is frequently pointed out. Applied research is the bread and
butter of the industry, which contributes roughly a quarter to the entire R&D spend by
businesses in Australia.
usefulness of STEM in the general workforce is also acknowledged. Chubb
mentioned soon-to-be-published research commissioned by his office, surveying
1,000 firms representing 450,000 workers.
these firms, over 82 per put forward that workers with STEM qualifications were
valuable in the workplace, even if their background wasn’t directly applicable
to their role.
to Chubb, a focus on skills and innovation was critical to remaining relevant.
we’re serious about our commitment to a strong manufacturing sector in
Australia, as we should be, we need to be serious in our commitment to STEM,”
in manufacturing is a constant, and the winners stay ahead of it. Otherwise
you’ll be left with a folding piano.”