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MANUFACTURING BOOSTS TASMANIAN ECONOMY

20-02-2017
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"Diversity in industrial design is very important. You'll find the more diverse your groups are the more rounded and better the design result will be."

The past few years have been difficult for Burnie. The mining downturn, and departure of 280 manufacturing jobs in early 2015, has led to a negative spiral pushing the local economy down, and unemployment up to 10.5%. 

The state government, however, has not sat idle: the launch of a 'Caterpillar Transition Taskforce' (CTT) and almost half a million dollars in investment towards a new Manufacturing Centre of Excellence have begun to show results. 

The goal of the CTT is to study the impact of Caterpillar's 280 jobs shifting overseas, and promote locally-based solutions to support the north-west region's economy. 

With the opening of the Manufacturing Centre, and the changing role of manufacturing, efforts are currently focused on training 'advanced manufacturing' skills, and teaching principles of industrual design. 

"The advanced manufacturing space is very competitive, just about everybody in the world is looking to get in there," said Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council chief executive, Wayne Bould.

"We're much more nimble in Tasmania and with the right approach we believe that Tasmanian industry can find a niche for itself unlike any other.

Current targets for retraining are ex-factory workers, primarily those who have been recently made redundant. Courses aim to retrain them with skills that enable them to participate in an evolving industry, teaching industrial design principles, robotics, and other technical applications. 

Andrew Dickinson an industrial designer teaching a new 'Design for Industry' programme at the University of Tasmania, said a diverse range of people had applied so far.

"We've got some young people, we've got some experienced engineers and we've got a cohort of males and we've got some women applying," he said.

"To us that's really very important. Diversity in industrial design is very important. You'll find the more diverse your groups are the more rounded and better the design result will be."

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