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Outsourcing means Upskilling

9 March, 2011

If there’s something that I’ve taken away from recent study into how business is changing in Australia (and probably most of the developed world), it’s that Australians will need to upskill somehow in order for us to keep any kind of competitive advantage in the world.

What do I mean by that?

Any era that we had where we could churn out products and people would buy them is now over.  Yes, we can still do that, but with labour costs being as high as they are, there is no way that we can do that profitably.  Simple reality: doesn’t matter how much you support Australian jobs, sooner or later you’re going to buy the product that’s half-price, no matter where it comes from.

The sheer size of China and India means that there will always be workers who can do the same work for less money.  Always.  Two-thirds of the world’s population live in one of these two countries.

So, how can Australia compete?

Our competitive advantage, I think, will be quality.  Quality, especially when combined with innovation (and, probably, niche markets).  People will still buy the barely-okay quality overseas stuff, of course, but people will actually pay $5 extra if their product seems to be designed for them in mind, over that generic product.

What’s my message?  I guess it’s this: if you think you can do no-skilled jobs with no inconvenience, you’d better think again.  The last bastion of the low-skilled job, in Australia, is the mining industry – notorious for being in the middle of nowhere and with fast employee turnover.  Perhaps, though, that’s what we’ve got.

If you don’t want that then, and you’ve got plenty of working years left then, well, think about where you want to be.  Better yet, think about what jobs will be needed soon (sheer demographics would suggest aged care, nursing homes and the like).

Then, plan out how to get to a needed job that you’ll enjoy.

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