Transport organisations called to upskill workforce for digitalisation

Report outlines impacts of digitalisation and automation on the transport industry

Transport organisations called to upskill workforce for digitalisation


By Roxanne Libatique

As technology continues to evolve, Australian organisations must upskill their workforce for digitalisation and automation in the transport sector to create new job opportunities and stay competitive among OECD countries, according to iMOVE's latest report.

iMOVE facilitates, supports, and co-funds research projects that improve how people and goods move in Australia.

The report, facilitated by iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre and Swinburne University, claimed that transport digitalisation and automation – driven by technologies such as connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), electric vehicles (EVs), and blockchain – will significantly impact the industry.

Prof Hussein Dia, from Swinburne University of Technology, said: “The transport industry is undergoing rapid developments in key trends that will shape the mobility landscape for the next two decades. 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.”

Last month, insurers warned that they need more access to EV data, with premiums for EVs likely to rise.

Transport digitalisation and automation's impact on workforce

The report outlined many new job opportunities as technology continues to evolve – for example, fleet service technicians, transport aides, and software engineering – requiring upskilling the workforce with the right skills.

Additionally, the report identified key digital and automation skills expected to be in high demand, including knowledge of autonomous robots, simulation tools, IoT solutions, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The findings align with the results of the Australian Cyber Security Centre's (ACSC) 2022 report, which revealed that nearly a quarter of reported cyber security incidents affected organisations providing essential services, including transport.

“Automated vehicles and digitalisation in the transport sector are set to redefine the workforce, creating both opportunities and challenges. While some tasks could be redefined in the longer term, the demand for other jobs or skills is also expected to rise,” said iMOVE CRC managing director Ian Christensen. “The report is an important first step to understanding how we proceed by acknowledging autonomous technologies, digitalisation, employment, and workforce development intertwine with educational programs.

Prof Dia noted that stakeholder consultations with the transport industry in Australia revealed that 70% of employees felt unprepared for the digital transport skills in the future. Meanwhile, nearly half of surveyed organisations acknowledged a significant digital transport skills gap that needs to be overcome.

Calls for addressing digital skills gap

The report calls for the digital skills gap to be addressed, including through updated secondary and tertiary training, tax breaks and credits for employer-based training, a national grants program, and a national digital literacy curriculum. For the transport sector, the report outlined 18 occupations facing high automation probability that will result in changing skills needs in those areas.

Addressing data gaps, co-designing training courses and materials, and developing a framework for digital skills by occupation in transport and freight sectors will ensure that the Australian workforce is well-equipped for the future, according to the report.

“By investing in digital skills training and fostering a collaborative environment, Australia can take advantage of these new opportunities and create a more resilient and future-ready transport workforce,” Christensen said.

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