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Economy

SON 2017: Australia need to find the industry sectors where we have a comparative advantage

We can’t be good at everything which is why we need to find the industry sectors where we have a comparative advantage, Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos has told CEDA’s State of the Nation conference in Canberra.

Mr Sinodinos said his portfolio “is no longer a portfolio about propping industry up, it’s not a portfolio about saying we’ve got an industry structure, it is set, it can never change, if you take that attitude you’re gone, in today’s world you are gone."

“What we are saying to industry is where you have been used to having certain protection…that is all changing but we will help you to change, we will facilitate change and importantly what we will do is make sure the workers affected by that change are looked after and have capacity to do new things and are given new opportunities,” he said.

“It is very important for us to have that focus in the portfolio, the portfolio is about managing, adjusting, adapting to change it is not about holding up the tide of change…the portfolio is very much now about how do we grasp the opportunities of the future.

“We have to be optimistic, when I look around the Australian economy, we really punch above our weight when it comes to knowledge creation.”


However, he said we need to do better on collaboration and “we need to do much better to keep up with our competitors… and the competitors are now very much in our region."

“Part of what I’m doing in the portfolio is saying when it comes to industry sectors what are our areas of competitive advantage, competitive strength and how do we build those so that we become not just as good as other countries in those sectors but the best in the world in those sectors,” he said.

“Now we as a country, because of our size, can’t be the best at everything, we have to prioritise.

“That’s why we have industry growth centres, which have identified sectors where we think we can really build a comparative advantage.”

Mr Sinodinos said while government policies and funding are important, education and training were vital if we are to succeed.

“Education and training is really germane to what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to have right foundation skills,” he said.

“Seventy per cent jobs in the future are going to come from some combination of science, technology, engineering and maths and the like, increasingly design.

He said we also need “for people in the workforce to understand that they may change jobs several times in their working life” and need to consider how we “equip them for learning and relearning."


 

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