Assess our industry’s contribution

Doom and gloom. The news on virtually all means of communication seems to be focussed on the GFC and its aftermath, the potential disintegration of the Euro zone and on the imminent (depending on your sources) demise of Capitalism, as we know it.

So what are we to make of it? 'Normal' everyday people like you and I are not exactly in any realistic positions to alter or change the course of any economic catastrophe about to hit us, are we?

So it seems to me that now is as good a time as any to have a realistic and unemotional look at the industry sectors that employ us or within which we operate as players.

I am of course specifically referring to those instrumentation, control systems and automation (IC&A) sectors that make up quite a large segment of readers of this magazine.

We collectively participate in almost all key areas of activity, from mining, oil, gas, telecommunications, electronics, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical, agribusiness – and the list goes on – to the TAFEs and Universities which teach and prepare students for employment in those areas.

By my reckoning, pretty well all of these underpin our economy and will not disappear overnight. Most will continue to thrive in the 21st century. But what is also certain is that each will experience change – dramatic, gradual or possibly evolutionary – depending on the sector.

How each sector prepares itself, in terms of its employees – current and future: its long term policies and planning and its ability to marshal leading edge technologies and innovative solutions to specific problems – to mention just a few key issues – will be deciding factors that will determine their future viabilities.

I therefore want to conclude this article by posing four questions that I believe require serious consideration by all sectors where IC&A engagement occurs in Australia.

  • "Are Australian TAFEs and Universities equipped to be able to provide current and future students with world's best education in areas of IC&A to ensure they can succeed in a globalised and increasingly competitive environment?"
  • "In the increasing globalisation of companies and employment opportunities offshore, are there sufficient opportunities in Australia for IC&A employees, graduates and/or apprentices to access the availability of globally recognised qualifications?"
  • "Are there sufficient incentives and/or interest by companies in Australia to invest in R&D in areas of cutting edge technologies that will ensure their long term viability and competitiveness, especially from emerging countries that seem to really appreciate the value of R&D?"
  • "Are Australian politicians of both persuasions aware of the importance of the IC&A contributions to our country's wealth creation potential?"

[Brett Simpson is President IICA.]

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