The Strategy Plan identifies key areas of focus for sustained research and action required by ATSE over the next three years that will equip Australia to meet the challenges, and seize the opportunities, from global technology advances that will transform our economy, industries, social fabric and environmental sustainability over the decade to 2030.
Technology change, globalisation and demographics will create a set of major opportunities and challenges for Australian business and society. Australia will require an inspirational policy vision to remain a leading society and economy by the end of the next decade.
Australia’s economic growth is expected to slow down and it will drop in economic importance due to the predicted global shift of power from the USA to China and India. However, resource-based industries (mining and agriculture) will remain a strong component of the Australian economy due to the demand created by more and more people, especially in Asia, moving out of poverty. Nevertheless, competitive pressures will see a need for a greater innovation and valueadd in both ‘new’ industries (such as service and knowledgebased industries) and in ‘old’ industries (such as resources and agriculture). Both types will be reliant on greater entrepreneurship, innovation and technology skills to prepare for the disruptive forces of change.
The major shifts in Australia’s demography over the next decades will see a growing and ageing population. This will lead to opportunities and challenges in health including the growing level of chronic disease and burgeoning healthcare expenditure.
Owing to an expanding population, Australia’s urban cities will grow substantially, putting further pressure on existing infrastructure and energy needs. Globally, food supply and demand will increase dramatically, further straining agricultural and natural resources.
ATSE is an independent think tank that comprises the leaders in the fields of technology and engineering, who gain Fellowship to the Academy in a highly competitive process. ATSE is one of Australia’s four national Learned Academies but its 800-strong Fellowship, unlike the other three Learned Academies, come from industry, government, research organisations as well as academia.
Our Fellowship develops trusted, informed and visionary views to persuade decision-makers to implement the most progressive policies on the development of technology for the betterment of Australia and its people.
Australia thrives as an innovative, globally competitive nation that embraces technology for economic growth while ensuring social cohesion and environmental sustainability.
To drive prosperity through advocacy for progressive innovation and education policy choices that promote technology and engineering for economic, social and environmental benefits.
Australia will need to harness technology innovation in all its forms, as part of its successful transition to a national technology and knowledge based economy.
The Australian economy faces unprecedented disruption due to emerging technologies and global trends. This disruption will impact jobs at every level in the economy and will occur at ‘exponential’ pace. Failure to be prepared will risk a decline in many aspects of our Australian way of life and society. With 0.3 per cent of the global population, Australia cannot expect to produce more than three to five per cent of the world’s technology. However, we need to adopt and adapt all of the world’s emerging technologies relevant to Australia’s needs. We need to identify and advocate best-practice technology adoption/utilisation and technology invention.
Using ATSE’s National Technology Challenge priority areas as a base:
Technology adoption in the economy will require a workforce with a deep understanding of engineering synthesis, scientific experimentation and data analysis as well as understanding of social and economic impacts. Industry will require more employees with these skills; skills that are honed through research degrees in technology, engineering and science. There is an imperative for tertiary sector educators/research leaders to be able to convey an understanding of industry career paths to their students and provide the networks to help facilitate connections to industrial opportunities. However, postgraduate students in these disciplines often are taught by academics who have followed a research career entirely within the research and higher education sector.
STEM education creates critical thinkers, ensures general science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require significant mathematics and science preparation. It is imperative, if we are to build and maintain a flexible dynamic workforce, that we make STEM education and life-long learning key priorities so as to skill workers for current and future STEM-based industries.
The strategies below must be applied across all educational sectors: primary, secondary, tertiary, and vocational.
Achieving gender equality and diversity is important for workplaces not only because it is ‘fair’ and ‘the right thing to do’, but because it is also linked to a country’s overall economic performance. Workplace gender equality and diversity is associated with improved national productivity and economic growth; increased organisational performance; enhanced ability of companies to attract talent and retain employees; and enhanced organisational reputation. Only one in four IT graduates and one in 10 engineering graduates are women.
Further, women occupy fewer than one in five senior researcher positions in Australian universities and research institutes, and around one quarter of the STEM workforce overall. STEM-oriented women managers are also under-represented in Australian businesses.
A concerted national effort is required to overcome the cultural, institutional and organisational factors that discourage girls and women from studying STEM, and that limit their opportunities to pursue careers in STEM-underpinned organisations. We also need to ensure that the Academy’s structures reflect the diversity (eg. cultural) of groups represented in the Australian STEM workforce.
Australia contributes some three per cent of global research and its success as a technology pace-setter depends on leveraging off, and participating in, international efforts. For international collaboration to better reflect Australia’s need for research translation and commercialisation, international collaborations must also reflect such relationships. This has seen ATSE focus on accelerating researcher-SME engagement and early stage innovation collaboration to address 'market gaps' in Australia.
ATSE has well-developed international collaborative linkages with its 28 international sister academies which it can leverage to boost science diplomacy as well as gain best practice from around the world. However, resource limitations dictate that global engagement needs to be prioritised and aligned to Government priorities, programs and funding opportunities.
The Academy’s resource is its Fellows’ deep knowledge, expertise and experience in science, technology and engineering drawn across academia, research, industry and government. Ensuring we elect the best minds to the Academy is vital for our sustained expertise, quality of advice, effectiveness and ultimate impact.
Australia also needs to celebrate its innovation success stories. The Clunies Ross Awards have a proud tradition of recognising contributions by dedicated individuals who have shared their vision and knowledge with others to apply technology for the benefit of Australia.
We also must encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.
In general, the community has relatively low science literacy and public trust in science is waning. Further, policy makers generally have limited in-depth expertise regarding technology and engineering. To achieve greater impact, ATSE needs to be recognised widely as a trusted source of advice.
ATSE will enhance its communication and engagement strategies, both internally and externally, to ensure it fully harnesses the expertise of its Fellows, as well as strengthening existing, and forging new, stakeholder relationships.
ATSE has an enviable body of expertise in its Fellowship. We need to enhance engagement of the Fellows to maximise their input.
Promoting Australia's advancement through technology