Future Industries Strategies – a plan for growth with a workforce to match

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When you’ve advocated for the position of identifying industry and regional economic and workforce priorities, now and into the future, it’s great to see it in action.

Victoria is an example of having many of the components of a 21st Century Workforce with an aspiration for a World-class Vocational Education and Training (VET) system.  On a fundamental level, if you have a plan for growth then you need a workforce to match, with a vision for the workforce and VET into the future.

This blog post explains the Future Industries Fund and aspects of the Victorian budget related to economic and regional development, education and entrepreneurship, employment and jobs, industry and workforce development, plus an invitation to join the Budget 2016 webinar.Tim Pallas

Future Industries Fund

The Victorian Government launched a $200 million Future Industries Fund on 17 March 2016 focused on priority industry sectors to drive growth.

These growth sectors include:

  • Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals – Positioning as a global leader, in medtech, biotech and pharmaceuticals, the key is to build capability, access skills and infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurs and engage the international market.
  • New Energy Technologies – The energy sector is transforming with a forthcoming Renewable Energy Action Plan and Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy to underpin growth in clean energy generation technologies. Strengthening sector skills, collaboration and innovation as well as supporting energy entrepreneurs, startup and export growth is a focus.
  • Food and Fibre – Increased automation and technology adoption along the food and fibre value chain together with an Innovation Network will see the need for a value chain/network workforce plan and capability assessment identifying areas of strength and development needs.
  • Transport, Defence and Construction Technologies – creating thousands of new jobs needs a streamlined transport network with technologies that ensures access for passengers across a world-class rail, bus and tram system. Specifically identified is “Build [ing] new skills for new technologies by boosting investment in Victoria’s TAFE system.”
  • International Education – As Victoria’s largest export, taking pride in international education sees an evolution of understanding students’ needs and a vision for Victoria to become entrenched as Australia’s Education State, recognised globally for high quality and innovative international education services. Growing a globally oriented, high quality Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector will require overseas market research in a cultural context with growth and capability development of many more VET practitioners to respond to opportunities.
  • Professional Services – Encompassing finance, business and engineering design services, the Victorian economy relies increasingly on specialised, knowledge driven services for growth. Building scale in the emerging fintech services sector and accelerating support for start-ups and high growth potential professional services small and medium enterprises, highlights the need for advance workforce skills for the future with industry associations and education and training providers.

The Government is also committed to building Victoria’s digital skills for the future. We will work with industry and education partners to identify and build high-demand skill sets, such as information technology and data analytics.

Open for applications, you can apply through the following grant programs:

  1. Future Industries Manufacturing Program
  2. New Energy Jobs Fund
  3. Sector Growth Program

The main aim is to, “…create new jobs and stimulate industry investment.”

For the Future Industries Manufacturing Program the objective is to,

…assist Victorian based companies that are intending to implement new manufacturing technologies and that will provide a critical foundation for:

  • Generating sustainable new local jobs, including high-value jobs
  • Improving productivity and international competitiveness and
  • Targeting growth opportunities.

There is a co-contribution requirement of $3 for every $1 granted with grants of up to 25% of eligible project expenditure and a maximum grant of $500 000.

This grant supports activities such as purchasing and implementing capital equipment, manufacturing product and process improvements, prototyping, evaluation and testing, supply chain capability development.

Assessment criteria includes:

  1. Impact of the Project on Employment and Skills
  2. The Level of Economic Benefit the Proposed project will bring to Victoria
  3. The Demonstrated Skills, Experience and Resources Available to the Business to Successfully Undertake the Project
  4. Value for Money
  5. Need for Government Support

The $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund supporting new technology projects in categories of community, manufacturing, technology and energy storage will see the second and third grant rounds open in the second half of 2016 and 2017.

Objectives of this fund include projects that:

  • create long-term sustainable jobs;
  • drive economic development;
  • promote community participation;
  • increase the uptake of renewable energy generation;
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • drive innovation of new energy technologies; and
  • build new energy technology capability and capacity in the State.

Assessment criteria overs The Project, Capability and Capacity, and the Benefits of the Project.

The Sector Growth Program provides grants of up to $1 million with two funding streams – 1. Scoping, Planning and Feasibility (up to $100 000); and 2. Project Implementation (up to $1 million).

Applications for both streams must involve consortia, with each consortium comprising at least three members, including at least one Victorian small or medium enterprise (SME).

For stream 1, “All funding must be matched by a minimum cash co-contribution of $1 for every $1 funded.”

Underpinning many of the relevant activities is workforce capability analysis and development, talent planning and pipelining.

In stream 2, Relevant activities include but are not limited to:

  • shared infrastructure solutions
  • piloting new technologies, such as demonstration plant/equipment
  • establishing consolidated industry capability.

Again, all with significant workforce implications as they relate to change, development, new skills and job roles.

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. alignment with sector strategies and demonstrated project need;
  2. direct economic development benefits;
  3. indirect economic development benefits;
  4. social and environment benefits;
  5. demonstrated project feasibility and delivery;
  6. financial viability; and
  7. value to the State.

Victorian budget

With the release of the Victorian budget yesterday there are further announcements of regional priorities and projects coined ‘Getting it Done for Regional Victoria’:

This is alongside the establishment of 10 Tech Schools with a specific industry focus and I hope 21st Century Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) as well as entrepreneurship and innovation capabilities.

The industry engagement framework muted in Boosting links with industry and supporting jobs must create a vision for the workforce and the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system.  Beginning with a statement about a preferred workforce scenario into the future, this would include industry and regional priorities, critical job roles and capabilities, with workforce gaps/issues and workforce development strategies to bridge the gaps.

Certainly training must be aligned with industry needs but it must also be recognised that many workforce gaps and issues will need solutions different to training and a forward thinking, innovative government would surely recognise that.

Specific capability and workforce development strategies have been identified including:

Young people who have left school at an early age or are long-term unemployed will get help to prepare for training and work, with $20 million for the Reconnect Program.

Additionally, $5 million will contribute to the fit out of a Geelong plumbing training facility and the construction of a Narre Warren facility, fulfilling our election commitment.

The new Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centres will provide students and the existing workforce with specialised plumbing training, working alongside the Gordon Institute of TAFE in Geelong and Chisholm Institute in the south-east.

It would be fantastic to see the Reconnect Program include entrepreneurial outcomes, exploring being your own boss and a job maker as well as employee opportunities.  For the new Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centres, the link to water analysis and security as well as emerging technologies (like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence) and commercialisation will be important.

Treasurer Tim Pallas MP highlighted to me the following strategies for Jobs of the Future including $297 million for the Future Industries Fund, Creative Industries Strategy and as a number 1 destination for international students.

There are five focus areas and 40 targeted actions in the strategy, with further details available via these links:

  • Backing creative talent
  • Strengthening the creative industries ecosystem
  • Delivering wider economic and social impact
  • Increasing participation and access
  • Building international engagement

To be the number 1 destination for international students, then across education, higher education and VET, the teachers and facilitators will need to be world-class.

Budget 2016

The federal budget is fast approaching and we are hosting an in-depth webinar that will break everything down for you, identifying opportunities and priorities.  Please follow this link to register for the hour long webinar which will be recorded on 13 May 2016.

27 April 2016

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