As Australia’s trade grows and the port infrastructure expands, the shortage of skilled maritime workers is felt more than ever and continues to pose a threat to the economy at large.
Dr Victor Gekara, School of Business IT and Logistics, recently undertook a study titled “The future of skills in the Australian ports industry: a case study of four selected ports”.
The study, which included qualitative interviews and an expert panel convened as a Delphi group, was conducted at four selected sites - port Dampier, port Botany, port Adelaide and Gladstone port.
The study was funded by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC) with the aim of developing knowledge about the prevailing skills situation in the Australian maritime sector, specifically regarding the complex context leading to the decline in skills supply, and providing information for new policy considerations on how to effectively build skills and workforce capacity for Australia’s ports.
The study was developed around the themes of critical skills requirement in ports, with specific reference to marine operations; the challenges for developing such skills within a historical context; long-term implications of shortages for critical operations; and suggesting a framework for sustainable skills development in the sector.
Five key questions are addressed:
- What are the key and critical skills in port operations?
- What is the current situation regarding skills in the Australian ports sector?
- In what areas of port operations are skills shortages being experienced?
- How sustainable are current approaches to skills formation and recruitment in these areas and what alternatives may be considered?
- What would be the most appropriate skills formation model for the industry to prevent future shortages?
“The findings from this study are important with regard to informing policy decisions to ensure that ongoing ports and logistics infrastructure expansion is accompanied with adequate supply of skills and labour, in order to translate into higher efficiency and greater productivity,” Dr Gekara said.