Australia must upskill its workforce for digitalisation and automation in the transport sector to create new job opportunities and stay competitive among OECD countries, according to a new report.
The 252-page probe – Creating our future transport and mobility workforce: Understanding the workforce implications of transport digitalisation and automation in Australia – was undertaken by iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre and Swinburne University in response to the “evolving workforce requirements for adoption of digital technologies in transport”.
The report acknowledges that transport digitalisation and automation – fuelled by technologies such as connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), electric vehicles (EVs), and blockchain – will significantly impact the industry with some jobs changing or becoming obsolete. It also identifies many new job opportunities – for example, fleet service technicians, transport aides, and software engineering, which will require upskilling the workforce with the right skills.
The report, released on Thursday, April 27, said the rising popularity of electric vehicles would end some roles while creating new ones, and recommended governments invest into closing digital skills gaps in the transport workforce.
It found that 18 roles within the industry had a high chance of being disrupted by automation, including Australia’s 412,000 heavy truck and delivery drivers, bus drivers, railroad conductors, locomotive engineers, and workers involved in shipping and freight.
Author and Swinburne University future urban mobility professor Hussein Dia said self-driving and connected vehicles could affect some of these positions before 2025.
But according to the report, it could take 15-20 years before long-haul truckies are affected by cheaper autonomous transport.
“The transport industry is undergoing rapid developments in key trends that will shape the mobility landscape for the next two decades,” said Dia.
“Advancements in connected and automated vehicles, warehouse digitalisation and automation, vehicle electrification, and artificial intelligence are all significant technologies on their own.
“But the real game-changer is when these technologies converge, creating a powerful combined effect that will drive unprecedented innovation and value.”
A case study on electric vehicles (EVs) within the report suggests that a 50 per cent EV uptake by 2030 could boost real GDP by $2.9 billion and create 13,400 new jobs.
The report’s recommendations to drive the nation’s digital skills development are:
• Provide national leadership and commitment to digital skills development and diversity.
• Establish a measurable national standard for industry-specific digital upskilling programs.
• Networks of partnerships between businesses, education providers, and the community.
• Incentivising private investment by expanding the scope of tax policies.
The study also proposed the creation of a national Office of Future Transport Technology to oversee grants and training programs.
The $220,000 research report was jointly funded, with the Australian Government contributing $110,000 and iMOVE CRC and Swinburne University contributing $55,000 each.