Australian leaders are still struggling to determine exactly what kind of skills their workforce needs to prosper in the future, according to Deloitte’s Industry 4.0 Readiness report, released today. 

Only 3 per cent strongly believe their organisation currently has the Industry 4.0 skills needed in the future (compared to 20 per cent globally); and only 13 per cent have an understanding of exactly which skills will be required to thrive, versus a global average of 59 per cent. 

The figures are contained in Deloitte’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution: At the intersection of readiness and responsibility report, which surveyed 2,000 C-suite executives across 19 countries, including 151 in Australia. 

Industry 4.0 refers to the combination of physical assets and advanced digital technologies to communicate, analyse, and act upon information, allowing organisation to make more intelligent, data-driven decisions. 

The third annual report asked business leaders how ready they are to meet the challenges created by the so called fourth industrial revolution, on topics such as technology, strategy, talent and community contributions, including adapting to climate change.

The report notes a shift in attitudes towards talent and training; the responsibility for developing the required skills is shifting from the individual employee to the organisation. Almost all Australian executives surveyed (89 per cent) indicate training and developing their workforces is a priority, and 99 per cent say they are committed to a culture of lifelong learning.

However no surveyed Australian executives currently have a comprehensive Industry 4.0 strategy in place, though 17 per cent are starting to develop a broader, organisation-wide approach. 

In terms of investment, 88 per cent of Australian executives said taking an integrated approach to implementing new technologies was a priority. While 64 per cent said investing in Industry 4.0 technology with a positive societal impact was also a priority, versus 22 per cent of global respondents. 

Climate Change

Among the survey responses there has been a large jump in Australian business’ desire to address the issues of climate change and environmental sustainability over the past two years.

Compared to their global peers, Australian executives are the most focused on climate change. 83 per cent said climate change was their generation’s responsibility to solve and 57 per cent of Australian execs believe their generation is responsible for encouraging sustainability. 

Two years ago, just 7 per cent of Australian executives (10 per cent globally) believed their companies could influence environmental sustainability to a significant degree.

This year 81 per cent of Australia’s business leaders believe that climate change will have a negative impact on their business operations, compared with a global average of 48 per cent. 

Richard Deutsch, Deloitte Australia CEO noted the survey was conducted before the devastating Australian bushfire crisis commenced late last year. 

“We can assume that Australian executives would feel even more strongly about businesses helping to address climate change and encouraging sustainability for the long term. There’s no doubt that our immediate focus must be on supporting local communities and those in need on the ground. Regeneration and rebuild will take years and I have no doubt Australian business will play a critical role in making this happen,” Deutsch said.

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