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Linking industry and education is key to unlocking innovation in Australia

With a report on the government’s innovation agenda set for release, peak body Engineers Australia is calling for a plan which consolidates funding models, fosters links between industry and academia, and recognises the need for government to take the lead in engaging with industry.

“The direction the government sets in their innovation agenda will have a profound impact on the future of our nation,” said CEO of Engineers Australia, Stephen Durkin.

“This future high-tech, high value economy requires qualified and capable professional engineers to drive productivity and innovation across each of the industries our engineering profession operates in. Engineering is at the heart of innovation and Australians need a government that is throwing its support behind the engineering profession, to effectively plan and deliver the projects our nation needs.

“The direction the government takes on innovation will have a significant effect on Australia’s engineers, who work in almost every industry in Australia. Innovation sits at the core of engineering and Engineers Australia wants to see the government throw its support behind projects that will give the best outcome for all Australians. This calls for a fresh approach in funding,” said CEO of Engineers Australia, Stephen Durkin.

“Paramount to getting value from research funding is strong, collaborative relationships between our tertiary institutes and industry. Both sectors recognise the potential of a symbiotic relationship but need practical help to establish links, making this an ideal place for the government to assist in turning Australia’s ideas into economic successes.

“Engineering accounts for more than half of research and development investment in private business and therefore has an integral role in getting ideas from the lab to the market. The recent announcement of an engineer as the incoming Chief Scientist heralded a welcome shift in the government’s view of engineering to Australia’s future prosperity; a shift we want to see solidified in the forthcoming innovation agenda.

“Ensuring our workforce has the right skills and education is vital to any innovation strategy, and we expect the government’s agenda will reflect this. However, equally important is ensuring a stable economy for graduates to move into. This is particularly problematic in engineering where many of our high-quality graduates are having difficulty securing work in Australia due to boom/bust infrastructure cycles.

“Government must lead by example. It needs to implement long-term infrastructure plans, use its procurement power to enable local businesses to innovate, and encourage an entrepreneurial mind-set that will be essential to Australia’s future economic success.

“Engineers Australia is eager to see the detail of the innovation agenda and stands ready to work with government to create the high-tech, knowledge-based economy we all want for Australia,” Mr Durkin said.

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