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What’s the future of work in the digital economy?

Karen Matthews

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rapid acceleration of the digitalisation of industry like never before.

Some of today’s biggest innovators and leaders in Australia and Germany – two countries with a collaboration agreement on Industry 4.0 – map the way ahead when it comes to the skills needs of the workforce of the future.

The experts shared their views at the recent global webinar on the Future of Work in the Digital Economy – Developing Skills for Industry 4.0, which was opened by the Australian Ambassador to Germany HE Lynette Wood and hosted by RMIT Europe.

A digital workforce is more important now than ever

“Digitalisation has become more important than ever before. We need a level of flexibility and speed that hasn’t been required to date,” said Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO, Siemens Australia New Zealand.

“New business models in Industry 4.0 have emerged at an accelerated rate – and along with that, the need for a skills transition has become much more accentuated,” he said.

“If we look at the impact of the current situation on travel, and bringing this into an industrial setting, it means we need to be able to maintain assets from afar.

“It’s a need more critical than ever, as we’re even seeing borders closed within countries.”

Connolly, who established the Australian Government’s Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce, said this need underlines the value of a digital twin – a virtual replica of an asset.

“And these assets, and the systems behind them, need to be reliably secure to ensure that things can keep working,” he said.

“The capabilities and skills required in an Industry 4.0 world are just as relevant to process industries, infrastructure and services – not just factories.

“A digitally skilled workforce was foreseen in the Industry 4.0 roadmap – but the pandemic has accelerated the urgency to establish these skills at scale.”

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