A message from Jens Goennemann


Avalon Airshow Careers Event

Last week, I spoke to over 500 students in their final years of high school at a careers event held as part of the Avalon Airshow. That occasion provided a good opportunity to demystify the manufacturing industry – to explain what manufacturing is all about and why it matters to Australia, as well as to the careers of Australia’s next generation.

Some commentators announced the end of manufacturing in Australia. Others even questioned: Do we need manufacturing in the first place?

Both ideas are dead wrong – and dangerously misleading.

Manufacturing currently employs almost 1.3 million people, representing over 10% of the Australian workforce when considering the entire value chain of manufacturing activities, and manufacturers export over $100 billion of goods every year.


Manufacturing is much more than assembly lines and production. Manufacturing is undergoing a massive transformation, and the jobs created as a result require a raft of different skills. It cannot be emphasised enough: the assembly or production of things is only one part of manufacturing – one out of seven parts to be precise. From research and development, design and logistics, through to intelligent production, distribution, sales and services.

Increasingly, manufacturing jobs are shifting to more complex roles—roles that are more interesting, more exciting, require greater skill levels, and pay higher wages.

Take, for instance, a project that BAE Systems Australia and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) will co-fund. The project is focussing on the use of Industry 4.0 technology in the world’s biggest defence program, the Joint Strike Fighter. We will be able to share more information on this exciting collaboration soon, however, the skills involved in this project include research and development, engineering, programming and more.

There is a huge opportunity to attract the next generation into the manufacturing industry. And, if they’re raising their hands to attend events such as the Avalon Airshow, if they want to see cutting-edge machines like the Joint Strike Fighters from Lockheed Martin, the 787 from Boeing, and the MRH 90 helicopters from Airbus in action, then these students are clearly already interested. We need to capitalise on this interest and ensure that these students are not just spectators, but participants in the future of advanced manufacturing in Australia.


I don’t know exactly what the technologies of the future are.

But, I do know that the most creative, inspiring, world-changing technologies will come from people who imagine, design and build the innovations that will carry us into a better, cleaner, smarter future.

Those who possess problem solving capabilities, and if they know how to make something – something complex, then the future is theirs.