Jobs summit could catalyze quantum shift in science and research
For example, we still don’t have all the tools to get to net zero. Sure, we know the steps, but some of those steps require technology that hasn’t been invented yet.
The emphasis is on commercialization, which I absolutely support and absolutely need. But the answer will only be found if you invest in research and experimentation and build a foundation of knowledge.
We are a Goldilocks-sized country that takes a systems design approach and is open to fresh ideas.
This may sound obvious, but it actually requires a mindset shift on three levels.
First, the understanding that a sustainable research system involves redundancy. Not all questions have neat answers. Just as no business becomes an overnight success, not every idea is a breakthrough.
The process of discovery and experimentation does not simply boil down to funding contracts and deliverables. But nevertheless, this is where ideas—fresh ideas, good ideas, improbable ideas, and even silly ideas—ignite the sparks of innovation.
Think about quantum technology. There’s a reason Australia is now a source of quantum talent and innovation, and a destination for multinationals. This success can be traced back to the setting of various innovation policies since the mid-1990s, including the establishment of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence.
The first round of funding included two quantum-focused centers, creating significant capabilities on a scale not typically seen in Australia. This fosters a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration, creating a unique positive feedback loop that facilitates and benefits from that ‘brain recovery’.
As with Quantum, the dividends of investing in blue skies are not realized in months or years, but in decades of commitment that require patience.
A second reason why job creation requires a mindset shift is that we cannot predict with certainty where new technologies will lead. They are destructive in nature.
This means our job-ready graduates are equipped with math, science, digital literacy, broad knowledge, and the ability to tackle and solve problems never seen before. This means that when we build skills, they must be transferable skills.
Reskilling and upskilling in the workplace should not be seen as a way to fill gaps, but as a purposeful and planned culture of continuous learning in the workplace.
Third, we are creating new industries and developing new workforces, so the approach must not be piecemeal, a confetti of programs and initiatives. Australia doesn’t have the scale to go in many directions at once.
We are a Goldilocks-sized country that takes a systems design approach and is open to fresh ideas. The problems we face are complex and interconnected, requiring government, industry and academia to work together to solve them.
There is another reason for working together. That means new technologies will be applied across the civil and defense sectors for sovereignty capabilities and international partnerships. In this context, a siled approach is not only inefficient. they are counterproductive.
We live in an era of great possibilities. As Australia’s chief scientist, Jobs and Skills hopes to see clear direction from his summit. It recognizes shared responsibility for change that is patient, cohesive and embraces the value of science.
Skilled transitions are still an important part of the mix, but it’s just one vehicle, not the main game. The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of relying on overseas labor. Moreover, no country wants to give up its own people. We all face the same workforce challenges.
A major challenge that cannot be delayed is developing a local workforce with high-tech capabilities and deep scientific knowledge, a workforce that makes the most of human potential, and the untapped talent that already exists within Australia. is.
Australia’s sovereign capacity demands this as well as prosperity and economic competitiveness.
These are also the environments needed to build cohesive and inclusive communities and give children a clear sense of where they are and where they are heading.