Travel overseas to drive change in the Australian automotive sector

04 Feb 2020

Travel overseas to drive change in the Australian automotive sector featured image
Pictured: Churchill Fellow Robert Siemsen

“My Churchill Fellowship gave me unmeasurable inspiration to what is possible when working with motor cars. To restore or manufacture car bodies is an incredibly tough industry and one that requires more than just hard work. To see the results achieved by tradesman who are passionate and loyal to superior craftmanship is something that I will always hold dear,” says Robert Siemsen, 2018 Churchill Fellow.

In addition to the traditional arts of coachbuilding, the automotive industry is leading rapid and far-reaching change through the introduction of driverless vehicles, the development of low and zero emissions transport technology, and the progression of world-leading retail experiences.

While employment in the Australian automotive industry has taken a hit following the closure of the last three car manufacturing operations in 2016 and 2017, the industry still currently employs over a quarter of a million people and supports over 50,000 businesses (IBIS World).

The automotive industry touches almost everyone daily and provides benefits to every Australian, with services and activities spanning infrastructure, mobility, environment, manufacturing, retail, safety, service and repair, freight, and more.
Road transport across Australia’s vast landscape is arguably the backbone of every industry, transporting our food, building materials and household goods, and as our cities expand, intelligent transport systems have the opportunity to reduce daily commutes, decrease our devastating road toll and increase accessibility and mobility for all.

With technology bringing change to jobs across all sectors, the automotive industry is unlocking opportunities for our future workforce and economic prosperity. Given the diverse activities and rapid technology advances occurring in automotive across the globe, what knowledge and lessons can benefit our local industry?

The Churchill Trust is asking this question as it offers the Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowships for projects that will contribute to the future success of the Australian automotive sector, and the sector’s allied industries – which includes cycling, emergency services, mining and construction, and more.

“Through this Fellowship, we hope to encourage the attitudes and attributes that have underpinned Australia’s success in this industry, and inspire, facilitate and celebrate ongoing innovation, quality, productivity and resilience as the industry continues to expand into the future,” said Mr Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

These Fellowships, launched in 2019, carry forward the legacy of Auto Skills Australia, which wound up operations in 2016. They are welcomed by industry leaders:
“VACC welcomes the establishment of the Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowships, dedicated to benefiting the automotive industry. Australia has a great talent pool across automotive technologies and we can enhance this further through the international experience in other countries,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce.

“The Fellowship program will provide great opportunities to expand the knowledge base of personnel in Australia’s automotive community, to prepare them for a great future in one of the world’s fastest-moving technology sectors. Bringing back learnings from the global automotive community will not only enhance each individuals skills and knowledge base but will also help build our collective automotive capacity in Australia,” Geoff added.
The automotive sector and its allied industries provide exciting challenges in Australia as our cities and population grow, and as we move to tackle national issues such as wellbeing, digital transformation, climate change and more.

“We are excited by the diversity of opportunities and future benefits this new Fellowship provides for allied industries (which includes bicycles, motorcycles, boats and small engines). With changing technologies, knowledge from international experience is something that can drive and support the industry to achieve its potential,” said Peter Bourke, General Manager of Bicycle Industries Australia.
According to the Truck Industry Council, 75% of freight in Australia is transported on our road network, making trucks essential for the distribution of goods and services that are vital to our living standards and to the economy.

“Truck manufacturers have made great advancements in truck technology, and design, making them safer, cleaner, greener, and more productive. The latest trucks are more ergonomically appealing in design for users and certainly, the trucks of the future will be even more technologically advanced, featuring alternative fuel propulsion systems to further improve efficiencies, and offer a far more interesting vocation than ever before,” said Tony McMullan, CEO of the Truck Industry Council.

“We are very pleased to see the investment in this sector that is being made with the new Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowships, giving Australians the opportunity to stay at the forefront of international developments to support the future growth and sustainability of Australia’s crucial transport infrastructure,” Tony continued.

“A Churchill Fellowship is a life-changing experience available to Australians from all walks of life and given the wide-reaching scope of the automotive industry the new Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowships have the potential to make a significant impact on many Australians. We welcome all those passionate about their work in this sector to apply” concluded Mr Davey.
The first two Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowships were awarded in 2019 to Paulo Borges to bridge the gap between autonomous vehicles and individuals with mobility difficulties, and Alison Morley to examine installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in low population areas.

For more information, including details on the automotive and allied industries covered by this Fellowship, stories from past Churchill Fellows who have made an impact in the sector, and more industry views and contacts, see the Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowships page on our website.

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