Following decisions by Ford and Holden, the loss of Toyota spells the end of car manufacturing in Australia. Perhaps, as the saying goes, this is a crisis too good to waste.
The loss of local automotive manufacturing is tragic for the workers and small businesses affected, but even more so for Australian know-how and iconic ability as ingenious problem-solvers. The Australian car industry has been an important seedbed for skills in engineering, design, technology, research, marketing, logistics and advanced materials. These are the real tools of trade for a high-cost economy like Australia’s to succeed against more intense, growing and low cost global competition.
This is an intangible knowledge asset, embedded in the capabilities of Australian enterprises and workplaces, that Australia must nurture, maintain and expand now without the pull of domestic car manufacturing to replenish this crucial knowledge and skills base.
Nurturing Australian know-how and putting it to good use in enterprises and workplaces in diverse industries, old and new, across Australia and around the world is the challenge. It is a challenge shared by government, business and the community at large for Australia’s future prosperity and sense of a fair go. It translates into action to help Australian manufacturers compete on value, not price and in niche specialist knowledge-intensive manufacturing, not standardised mass manufacturing.
This means boosting the skills in business innovation, smarter work practices and customer services, deeper capabilities from collaborating to learn and to use knowledge and technology for a competitive edge, and securing new opportunities and customers where Australian companies offer value and experiences that others don’t.
The end of the era of entitlement must not herald an age of inaction by either Australian policymakers or business leaders.
See the LinkedIn group Australian Manufacturing Forum founded by journalist, Peter Roberts, for broader discussion and ideas.
Available here: LinkedIn – Australian Manufacturing Forum