Industry 4.0 poised to deliver growth and change through workforce transformation

Wednesday 15 May 2019

woman holding laptop in futuristic connected city scene

The new report on Industry 4.0 presents findings that include best practice workforce transformation initiatives in the advanced manufacturing sector.

In summary

  • New report identifies the ways in which businesses and workforces must adapt to changes brought about by Industry 4.0
  • It provides advice for industry, education, unions, peak bodies and government
  • Launched during National Manufacturing Week

Industry 4.0 is rapidly changing Australia’s manufacturing industry. New research undertaken by Swinburne, PwC, Siemens and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) – as part of the Australian Industry Group (AiG) Industry 4.0 Forum agenda – identifies the ways in which businesses and workforces must adapt to these changes.

The research report, titled Transforming Australian Manufacturing: Preparing businesses and workplaces for Industry 4.0, arose from the work of the Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum Workstream co-chaired by Swinburne’s Professor Aleksandar Subic, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) and Andrew Dettmer, AMWU President.

The report provides information and advice for government, industry, unions and peak employer bodies, and education/research institutions. It was launched during National Manufacturing Week, Australia’s largest manufacturing expo.

Following previous industrial revolutions in mechanisation, mass production and computers, the fourth industrial revolution – known as Industry 4.0 – is about the fusion of cyber-physical systems that involves digitalisation across the entire industrial value chain. It includes technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), advanced automation and robotics, 3D printing, machine-to-machine communication, digital twins and sensor technology.

Collaboration needed to drive innovation and transformation

The report finds industry, education, unions, peak bodies and government must collaborate to drive innovation and workforce transformation for the benefit of industry and society. Among its eight recommendations, the report proposes that new funding, delivery and accreditation models be created to support lifelong learning, reskilling and upskilling throughout the work lifecycle.

It details a number of case studies and highlights international and national best practice, including Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 apprenticeship program and national Industry 4.0 Testlabs network model that demonstrate how education, industry and government collaboration can be used effectively to co-create and develop education and research offerings that better meet future workforce requirements.

The report also identifies the emerging skills needs of the manufacturing industry, such as:

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • intelligent data analytics
  • higher levels of digital literacy
  • automation
  • cybersecurity
  • advanced cognitive skills

This will require the upskilling of existing workers for changing jobs, as well as the recruitment of new entrants to the manufacturing workforce.

“The report presents findings that include international and national best practice of workforce transformation initiatives in the advanced manufacturing sector, as well as in other areas of relevance,” says Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) Professor Aleksandar Subic, who was a member of the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce.

“In order for Australian companies to access global value chains and associated benefits within an emerging Industry 4.0 world, our businesses and government must actively encourage and support new skills development in advanced industrial digitalisation across the entire continuum, from vocational training to higher education and PhDs. This requires disruptive innovation in education and training based on new models of public and private sector partnerships.”

Industry 4.0 at Swinburne

Swinburne is linking vocational training and higher education to create the skilled, digitally savvy workforce of the future. Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 higher apprenticeship course, the Associate Degree of Applied Technologies, developed in collaboration with Siemens and the Australian Industry Group, is a forerunner in this approach.

The Advanced Manufacturing Industry 4.0 SME Hub at Swinburne is also pioneering a new model of university-industry collaboration. Students will work side-by side with industry and researchers developing and co-creating new technologies and practices.

Learn more about Swinburne’s approach to Industry 4.0

National Manufacturing Week

Australia’s largest manufacturing expo, National Manufacturing Week takes place at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, with more than 90 expert speakers sharing exclusive insights into the latest developments in the manufacturing sector.