In Skills and Capabilities for Australian Enterprise Innovation, the Australian Council of Learned Academies examined the success of some of Australia’s most innovative businesses.
It found that many of them work directly with universities on both workforce skills development and joint research projects – two key components of their success in business innovation.
“This highlights once again the major business benefit for firms that work closely with Australia’s world-class university system,” said Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson.
“By forging closer ties with universities, companies can tap into invaluable research expertise, bring researchers into their enterprises, exchange skills, and have their pick of skilled graduate employees.”
The ACOLA report highlights the value to industry of joint initiatives with universities such as project practicums, joint PhD programs, and hackathons. These offer inexpensive opportunities for organisations to test new ideas and technologies, and source future talent.
Another key finding of the ACOLA report is that graduates need a mix of diverse and creative skills – not just specialist skills in engineering or technology – to be innovators in the workplace.
While technical skills are often foundational in many jobs, graduates also need leadership, people skills, communication, critical and analytical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and cultural knowledge. It notes that attitude, cleverness and emotional intelligence are just as important as technical skills.
“Universities understand this need for a breadth of skills and capabilities in their graduates, and are innovating the delivery and content of their courses to meet those needs,” Ms Robinson said.
The report highlights the National Strategy on Work Integrated Learning in University Education, a collaboration between Universities Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, AiGroup, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Collaborative Education Network.
The WIL strategy extends efforts by universities and industry to produce the graduates needed by the workforce into the future.
Launching the report today, Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, encouraged students to learn from the lessons of success in the report. We agree with his view that “people who combine deep learning in a discipline with the insight to think and work beyond it can catch opportunities that others miss.”
Today’s publication is the final instalment in a series of 13 major reports commissioned by the former Chief Scientist Ian Chubb on key challenges in science, research and education policy. “These reports have made a profound contribution to gather the evidence for sound public policy in areas which will underpin Australia’s future prosperity,” Ms Robinson said.