National collaboration on economic development? Take it as RED ...

THE REGIONAL Economic Development Toolbox – an online platform which has only gone live in 2017 and whose partners have already dubbed it the RED Toolbox – appears to be the game changer Australia needs to accelerate sustainable regional growth.

That may seem a bold statement for such a recent innovation, but it is winning that kind of endorsement from business leaders engaging with it now. 

The Regional Economic Development Toolbox is what it proclaims – a digital toolbox for the growth of Australian economies that all sorts of skilled people can dig in to, using its components to fix local problems and engineer for the future.

The RED Toolbox is a tool set, a knowledge library, a roundtable discussion venue, a business events resource, a news magazine, a blogspot for more than 100 invited business and academic experts – and something extra: a trade showcase for best-of-breed and innovative Australian products and services, designed to lift export opportunities.

It is looking like a genuine Australian national economic and business development collaboration platform … although what such a thing should look like is difficult to say, for nothing of its kind has ever been created before.

Australia’s RED Toolbox is, as far as Business Acumen can tell, something unique in the world.

It simply looks like what its creators – the Brisbane-based Digital Business insights (DBi) team and its growing list of collaborative partners –  have made it into.

Shaped by open-source software, much of it Australian, and engineered by DBi technical director Geoff Grantham, the RED Toolbox is the culmination of more than 15 years of research into Australian adoption of technology by business. It is underpinned by more than 50,000 company surveys and industry reports by DBi and 300 deep case studies on leading Australian businesses.

“The RED Toolbox has no fixed prescription other than fulfilling its purpose: to energise, equip and connect business development and, hence, job creation across Australia,” DBi CEO John Sheridan said.

It is something elastic and responsive to the real needs of Australia for regional economic development, because Mr Grantham and Mr Sheridan have designed it that way.

Now they are plugging in experts, business leaders, government departments, councils and knowledge brokers right across regional Australia, whose contributions are leading the platform in necessary new directions and giving it practical form. 

Foundation partners include Regional Development Australia, CSIRO, SEGRA, ACS, Outsource Institute of Technology, State Library of Queensland, Queensland Trade and Investment and media partner Business Acumen magazine. 

“As the RED Toolbox develops and more people come on board, particularly regional councils, there will be projects created and results from those projects that other regions around Australia will learn from and be able to adapt this knowledge for themselves,” Mr Sheridan said.

“What we have done, based on our research, is figured out what was missing in terms of connected economic development in Australia and provided a digital platform to present the tools and connect people in a way that has never been done before. At its most basic, I guess this is a business development resource that is made more powerful by the fact that it connects businesses that need something with other local and national businesses that can provide what they need.

“The custom of taking recommendations by mates more seriously is alive and well in Australia and this is like a digital meeting place for mates you may not have physically met yet, but whose recommendations you value and trust,” he said.

Elements of the RED Toolbox make it more than the sum of its parts – and there is more to come.


The RED Toolbox opens the lid on tools that connect business people around Australia to knowledge and networks that can accelerate business development.

The key toolbox compartments at this stage are the Showcase, Groups, Insights, Events & News and Projects. Mr Grantham said there is even more capability built in to the toolbox that will be turned on as it matures, determined by user feedback, including a unique meld of online learning platforms.

Some compartments in the RED Toolbox are able to be locked, for the benefit of specific subscriber and user groups, but most of the platform is open to view by the public. To open up some areas of the toolbox and participate, people must register – but it is free.

The platform is funded by its users who subscribe or partner depending on their level of involvement. Most businesses are drawn to a RED Toolbox subscription by the Showcase, which has a curated foundation of 5000 best-of-breed Australian companies drawn from DBi’s extensive research. Participation in the Showcase is free, but other paid subscription levels allow companies to upload more information, including images, audio and video.

The Showcase is being developed as a place where the world can find the best products and services Australia has to offer. Working with trade authorities such as Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) and Austrade, the Showcase provides a basis for creating tailored country-specific Showcases that will provide an international outreach platform linked to trade missions and international business events.

“The Showcase has already been used to solve problems for several businesses in Australia,” Mr Grantham said. “A Queensland pizza chain told us they used it to find a list of local cheese suppliers that they approached directly, when cheese prices were raised dramatically by a wholesaler in early 2017. They were able to secure supply at the right price and have built a relationship with the Victorian farm that has paid off for both parties.

“They did not even know of each other before. These are the kinds of outcomes I think we can expect to see regularly from the RED Toolbox.”


The Groups area is a series of flexible discussion rooms where business people, experts, academics, local councils and government departments can gather to outline and discuss issues and challenges. Some of these groups are invitation only, depending on the environment needed for frank discussion.

“This has been set up in this way because some projects, for example, may need to have a closed loop of people able to chat freely and securely,” Mr Sheridan said. “The ‘owner’ of each project area – which we expect to be mainly councils – decides how each project operates and can invite people into various groups associated with each project.”

Company partners and not-for-profit groups can create their own groups as both a gathering point and a communication platform for collaboration.

Government bodies who subscribe can create an unlimited number of groups and these may have set lifespans linked with the problems they are set up to solve, or the projects they are associated with.

“Groups work in a similar way to major social media platforms and most people will find familiar options available – Profile, Activity Timeline, Discussions, Files, Members, Feeds, Announcements and the ability to invite users from the RED Toolbox or invite people from other platforms, publish to other platforms, and keep members up to date by notifications on the platform and via email,” Mr Sheridan said.

“Anybody can sign up to the RED Toolbox and join groups, but only partners can create groups. Council, RDA and corporate partners can create many groups. Small business and not-for-profit partners can create one group per organisation.”

Mr Sheridan said groups were created under four headings: Sectors, Regions, Issues and Projects. Groups can be open, closed or invitation-only. Signed-up users can see and join open groups, and can ask to join closed groups.

Groups already exist for RDA Brisbane, Narangba Innovation Precinct, SEGRA, North Burnett Region, Geelong Regional Development, Assistive Technologies and the RDA’s Click! Digital and Business exhibition and conference.


The RED Toolbox Insights area is a platform for bloggers, expert authors, researchers, business leaders and industry advisers to share ideas and concerns. So far, about 120 blog authors have been invited and accepted onto the RED Toolbox, several of them international authorities on specific aspects of economic development.

Insights is currently organised into the key subject areas of Regions and Tourism, Future of Work and Jobs, Regions and Energy, Regional Projects and Ideas, Exporting Regions, Regions on the Move, Regions-The Big Picture and Adding Value By Design. 

“A key aspect of having these expert commentators involved is that we can direct their observations into the communication stream of specific groups and projects as a way of enhancing discussion and, hopefully, problem solving,” Mr Sheridan said. “Likewise, Groups and Projects and other participants in the toolbox can direct information or questions to these experts for comment.

“We think the sharing of these discussions, projects and proposals will help to supercharge activity throughout Australia. This just has to result in practical progress. I believe this is the first time something like this has been done anywhere in the world.

“The RED Toolbox introduces this joined-up approach and methodology, utilising the digital revolution in new and positive ways to benefit Australians. That is what we are all about.”


The Projects section of the RED Toolbox is where the rubber really hits the road.

“This is where communities or industries or even companies can gather to develop a project, opening it up for discussion – or even advice – and perhaps funding, to the rest of Australia,” Mr Sheridan said.

The first project on the site is the community-led North Stradbroke Island economic transformation program, which is being branded ‘Minjerribah Fresh’, adopted from the Indigenous placename for the island. It is regarded as a benchmark for other projects to come.

According to the project launch report, which also kicks off in the RED Toolbox Projects area, North Stradbroke Island is in economic transition with the closure of sand mining operations by 2019. This project is a community-led approach to re-setting the island’s economy for a sustainable and growing future through new agribusiness development which will also lead to new opportunities in tourism.

The Minjerribah Fresh project is underpinned by a structural change in organic waste management on the island, managed by Redland Shire Council, to develop community agribusiness projects.

“These projects will provide employment and create a new market for local produce that will enhance tourism and develop the island as a unique organic culinary destination,” the report noted. “As the project develops, local creative entrepreneurs are expected to emerge who will find new ways to add value.

“The creation of locally-branded food and beverage products are sure to emerge and it may be possible to cover-brand all such products from North Stradbroke Island as, for example, ‘Straddie Fresh’ or ‘Minjerribah Fresh’.”

The RED Toolbox Projects section will include news of projects – past and present – will track the development of projects from idea to completion, and provide a place for partners to collaborate and share. 

“Partners can suggest ideas for projects designed to help regions and communities,” Mr Sheridan said. “Ideas can be posted and partners can offer to contribute to a project in some way – experience, material, funding or project management.

“Once the project is supported it will be completed, with every stage of the project being documented and reported to partners expressing an interest in the project theme. Completed projects will be placed into a project library, which partners can access for their own region.”

The Projects will also be communicated to the broader Australian business market and internationally through Business Acumen magazine’s print and online resources.

The Events area of the RED Toolbox is also a revelation. It will effectively become the most comprehensive business events resource for Australia, with national and international events drawn from the reporting resources of Business Acumen magazine and, on top of that, the platform provides the capability for partners and business-level subscribers to promote and manage their own events through the calendar.

These can range from national and international exhibitions and conferences to internal business events to project meetings, Mr Sheridan said.

“Again, this is something that has never been done before, anywhere in the world, in a joined-up way, as far as we can find,” he said.

“Talking about collaboration and working together, and doing it are different things. There are lots of words and discussions … but little action. That is why we built the RED Toolbox.

“It is a platform for discussion. A platform for action. A platform for collaboration. A platform for joined up thinking. A platform to support productive industries.

“The RED Toolbox is the kind of economic game changer that Australia really needs right now.”



Digital Business insights: What is the RoI of a seed? Revisited

Digital Business insights by John Sheridan >>


I HAVE ASKED this question before. And I am asking it again.

Because there is a lot in this simple question that remains unanswered.

We are all familiar with seeds. But if we weren’t, and somebody was trying to tell us that there was great value and potential in a handful of small, dried up, wrinkled specks of dust, we would probably prove hard to convince. 

Because what is a seed? Does it in any way demonstrate its true potential? No.

Because the seed carries within itself the programming to turn brown dirt, and colourless air and water into something so different it is hard to believe the seed had any part in it.

Acorn into mighty oak. Apple pip into apple tree. A small, hard, brown husk grows into a supple green plant…covered with bright coloured flowers. 

We don’t think twice about this miracle. We have learned the relationship. We appreciate the transformation. We understand the time scale involved. 

But what about the seeds of potential planted by the digital revolution?

We are not so good at estimating the value of the unfamiliar and the new. We measure it by what was…not by what might be.

We measure by things that have been done within the constraints and restrictions of a familiar environment not by what might be done in a new digital environment without those restrictions. 



There are two issues in play here.

One is the potential of the seed. The other is the potential of the seed planted into a new and changed environment. A new interconnected, collaborative and integrated, networked environment.

What is the potential of a network? What is the RoI of something without edges and boundaries?

Nobody really knows and most people lack imagination. They need help. Pictures. Stories. Examples.

How do you define the potential of something if you can’t describe where it starts and finishes, begins and ends… because it doesn’t?

What is the potential of a digitally interconnected sector, region or country?

What is the RoI of that seed?

Is that novel? Is that something new? Of course it is. We have never seen that before. It is a new potential expressed in a new condition.

And extremely difficult to judge or evaluate.


There is a vast gap between the technological “connection”, “collaboration” and “integration” of the digital revolution and the associated “thinking” that goes with it.

The digital revolution is full steam ahead. The connected “thinking” still lags way, way behind.

We live in an increasingly joined up and connected world, but we still run our societies using disconnected, disjointed strategies – across regions (geography), industries (sectors), government (departments) and time (political timescale). We don’t always think of them as disconnected, but they are.



We talk about smart cities yet continue to build dumb ones. A city is not smart because the parking meters or the traffic lights are smart.

A city is only smart as a result of joined up thinking across all societal dimensions and we haven’t yet begun to consider what that might mean.

Is it smart to allow cheap cladding to “pretty up” buildings and create firetraps? The architect, developer, builder and council planning department are all participants in the approval process. It all joins up. But the thinking doesn’t. And disaster is the result.

Manufacturers select cheap and vulnerable chips for their products and consumer devices and create the hacker paradise that we all now live in. And your fridge, your car, your router, your modem, your camera, your meters, your phone, your credit card, your children’s toys, your garage door, your library books or your office key are all ready to play. All because we used 25c chips versus $5 chips and a new Y2K disaster beckons.

Only this one will actually happen.

The revolution is outstripping the thinking. The revolution outstrips the governance and management. And in a joined up world, we are all shareholders, and responsibility doesn’t stop at the front door.

Legally it might in the short term, but we can do better than that.

We can start by “joined up” thinking.

We can start by talking “between” as well as “within”.

We can start by sharing and collaborating.



For the digital revolution powers on, ignoring departmentalism, nationalism and parochialism, continuing to join and connect.

The revolution is all-inclusive not all-exclusive. That is what makes it so disruptive. The connectivity creates new options with no reference to existing historic relationships.

So the whole 'C suite' has to invest time for joined up thinking. It’s not the CIO’s job. Nor the CMO, the CFO or the CEO alone. It has to be an informed collaborative discussion. The whole cabinet. The whole council.

And that means looking at how the digital revolution does disrupt, might disrupt and how it can offer new opportunity. It means collaboration with others. It means generating joined-up ideas and trying them. Planting seeds and germinating them.

What is the RoI of a seed? There are two points of view. The brown shrivelled view (what it is) and the green, leafy view (what might be).

Current thinking. Keep digging up the seed to see. There you go…still brown and shrivelled – no RoI there.

With any seed, there is an element of vision, hope, expectation and trust in a process. Demand the RoI too soon and there isn’t any. Measure it by past example and it doesn’t make sense either.

In a connected 21st century world where the implications of universal connection are impossible to map let alone evaluate, it is difficult for 19th century thinkers to keep up. They ask the wrong questions.

19th century thinkers probably weren’t even very good in the 19th century when the first commercially viable locomotive hit the rails. The top speed of the Blutcher was 4 mph…not very impressive, but ultimately it led to British Rail. So what was the ROI of the Blutcher?

And Stephenson also understood that ultimately all rails would connect into a railway network.

What was the RoI of the railway network in the 19th century? Was it the value to the railway company of passenger and freight? Or was it what happened as a result of the railways connecting the isolated towns and villages across a country transforming commerce, jobs, and creating new industries like tourism?



Business is not just about shareholder value. It is about the sustainability of shareholder value. And we are all shareholders.

Farming value, not mining value. Focusing on the medium and longer-term, not short term, next quarter bottom line.

Most farmers have always understood this. Value adding. Conserving, collaborating, investing and improving, applying a sustainable approach to agriculture that can be passed onto future generations.

Digital enforces a slow but steady shift in attitude. Not yet for everybody, but apparent in those early adopters of digital technology, the innovators and the young digital natives.

This 20 percent of organisations - the agile, the smart, the informed and the adaptable – recognise opportunity when it stares them in the face.

The RoI of a seed.

The other 80 percent actually have no choice in the matter, but have failed to recognise that fact…so far. The digital currents of transformation carry us all in one direction only.

Out into the digital ocean of change. We are caught in an enormous digital riptide carrying us out to sea faster than we can possibly swim in the other direction, back to the safe, solid land of the 20th century, when direction was clear, plans could be made and followed through, KPIs measured and MBAs meant something.

There is no solid land in the digital revolution. We are all at sea.

That is the intriguing thing about this revolution. We are impacted and affected no matter what we do.

The only intelligent option is to use the currents of change for personal, collective and collaborative advantage. And that means understanding what is happening. “Getting it”. Making and taking time to really understand the options and opportunities, not abdicate responsibility to somebody else. 



The major barriers and blockages to the digital revolution are nearly all human, nearly all attitudinal and therefore difficult to modify and change.

Command and control is redundant. But countless managers wrestle with this new fact every day. Unsuccessfully. 

Business loyalty has become hollow. Loyalty now only follows authenticity.

And millions of CEOs still face this disruptive revolution without full comprehension, unwilling to make time to understand what and why and how. “I’m too busy”, they say, from the bus as it disappears over the cliff.

But revolutions take time. And patience is required. 

You can't whip a tree and make it grow. The early adopters will adopt. But then...

This revolution involves technology (tools) AND people (users).

Technology is an enabler. But it has to be coupled with comprehensive understanding, imagination and enterprise.

And the process of change management is not like architecture where we draw a plan, then assemble inorganic elements into a structure. The digital revolution demands an approach more akin to gardening where we never really know what is going to "come up".

We have a general idea of what might be but then have to work with the reality as it emerges. Then water, fertilise, prune.

That is when we see the ROI of a seed. Not the picture on the seed packet.

This is uncomfortable for those who think everything can be controlled. Gardening is intelligent, sensitive management…not control.

The technology is the "easy" bit. But people are hard.

Worse still (or better still), we are now entering a stage of connecting organisations, regions, states, countries, supply chains and ecosystems and that requires even more understanding and a very different collaborative approach that is inclusive and recognises the new currency of authenticity, honesty, consistency and trust. 

And the traditional brokers are broken.

Industry associations, councils, governments have to seriously consider what it means to collaborate with others, and to move beyond merely talking about it, into action…because most current actions are reinforcing the status quo.

Talking about collaboration and working together, and doing it are different things. There are lots of words and discussions…but little action.

That is why we built the RED Toolbox -

It is a platform for discussion. A platform for action. A platform for collaboration. A platform for joined up thinking. A platform to support productive industries.

We are at the next big "bump in the road" in our digital evolution. Get this right and there can be profound benefits in our societies.

It seems to be especially hard for politicians and business groups and industry associations. The polarisation of all viewpoints into left and right, liberal and conservative doesn’t ring true in a connected world. There are good ideas from both side and all sides. We need the best of both.

It is no longer about where the idea came from. Who cares? The issue now becomes “Is it a good idea?” measured against all the wicked problems we face as a society.



The game has changed. Competition has morphed into 'coopetition', into shared value, into collaboration.

Ants operate collaboratively for the good of the nest. The queen does not control what happens in the nest. She lays the eggs. She creates the resource.

The ants forage, find food and manage threats with all the “decisions” being made at the small group level. The ants collaborate to solve problems. There is no central command and control. Yet the result of collaboration at this level is remarkably successful.

Collaboration at grass roots is already happening, not just in Australia, but across the planet. It is a very natural activity. Individuals and groups are collaborating to solve problems. Now we just need to scale up. And take this collaborative approach to the next level.

We can learn a lot from ants. They are successful. They have collaborated for 100 million years. And if the humble ant can manage this so successfully, then so can we.



John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 15 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the first of which launched in 2016, the Manufacturing Toolbox. DBi has now also launched a series of international online trade showcases, promoting Australian goods and services to specific countries and promoting use of those showcases in those countries. The first, just launched, is the Australia-Taiwan Trade Showcase. Coming soon are trade showcases for Japan, Hong Kong-China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and India. Australia's Regional Economic Development (RED) Toolbox has now been launched at


QMI’s new Vuable video social network helps industries innovate

THE NEW VIDEO social network launched by QMI Solutions aims to do a lot more than help drive industry innovation through moving pictures.

The Vuable team believes that fostering ideas, skills and experience will ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Australia’s industries. The Vuable video platform will interlink small and large business, including innovators, researchers, start-ups and project owners.

Founded 25 years ago as the Queensland Manufacturing Institute – and now a national industry solutions catalyst and technology disseminator – QMI Solutions is well known for taking the lead in introducing new technologies to the manufacturing sector, successfully. 

QMI Solutions managing director and CEO, Gary Christian – who pointed out that QMI successfully introduced the first industrial 3D printing system into Australia 20 years ago – said Vuable had been created in direct response to industry challenges in visibility, market access, collaboration and innovation.

Mr Christian also foresees Vuable having a significant role in connecting Australian researchers with industry and in helping companies market their innovations and products nationally and, eventually, internationally.

“Gary is right about that and it is the research into this area that we used to shape Vuable,” QMI Solutions’ Vuable co-creator Norm McGillivray said. “There is nothing like Vuable currently anywhere in the world.”

Mr McGillivray said the way the market has adopted video – through Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat stories – is an indication of how a well-planned and astutely organised video platform like Vuable could positively impact industry business growth.

“When QMI started to research and investigate a new platform, we looked around the globe to see if we could find anything like it, one that was solely tuned to industries and innovators,” Mr McGillivray said.

“We thought, ah! Obviously, YouTube and other social media platforms serve a diverse range of video content to the masses, but there was nothing just dedicated to industry and innovators.

 “Vuable serves our stakeholders in the sectors in which QMI is already active – and that is suppliers into major projects, manufacturers and their intermediaries, projects in development and innovators,” he said.

“It is, however, not limited to these industries. We are talking with retail, tech and financial institutions about joining the network as well as major projects and our industry leaders including government departments and research organisations.”


Mr McGillivray said Cisco Systems had released a report earlier this year on the impact of internet-delivered video, estimating that by 2018 people would consume about 80 percent of their online information through video.

The growth of video information has been driven largely by the smartphone, Mr McGillivray said. Industry is rapidly coming to grips with its potential, with many already incorporating video into training and apps.

Mr McGillivray, who has been working with his team on Vuable for just over 12 months, said observations of the video trend is backed by QMI’s investment in the system.

“I see small businesses in general already using video in many ways, along with larger organisations including government departments” he said. “Members of Vuable may initially use it to say who they are, what they do and who they work with. Taking their capabilities from text into the visual space” 

“Research organisations and government departments will use Vuable to show what assistance programs are available, and what research organisations are doing currently.”

He said QMI could also see Vuable impacting the project space, highlighting major projects and being used practically for infrastructure to supply information, for contractors, community engagement, “and social good”.

Mr McGillivray said Vuable would almost immediately enable existing QMI Solutions customers to elevate their ability to market – an ongoing challenge in the manufacturing sector.

Mr McGillivray said in the initial planning stages of Vuable, a concern had been the capability of industry to create quality video updates – but the smartphone had virtually eliminated that concern. He added there would be a requirement of ongoing education to get industry comfortable about creating and publishing content, with confidence coming from seeing peers using the platform too.

There is also a range of “fantastic video editing apps that are either free or low cost as well as desktop computer options” he said.

 “The use of mobile phone is key … You can use mobile technology to get the best outcome, we are practising what we preach and have created our own videos on smartphones” Mr McGillivray said.


QMI Solutions has developed the Vuable platform in just over eight months, utilising in-house developers to adapt open-source software.

A useful feature is Vuable’s search functionality, which utilises hashtags, while full instant messaging capabilities are incorporated.

“This removes the friction from the dreaded cold call, and adds the ability for subscribers to interact, business to business, and arrange anything from meeting informally over a cup of coffee to arranging a site meeting at a business’s premises, we think this is a pretty cool feature,” Mr McGillivray said.

“Suppliers and innovators can come on-board and enjoy a free trial period of 30 days and if they don’t like it that’s fine,” he said. “But if they wish to continue it is a month-by-month subscription that’s $25 and they can upload their video any time they want. It’s very flexible, they have total control to pause and resume their subscription at any time.”

QMI has always been an innovator in technology adoption and dissemination.

The Vuable platform grew out of QMI Solutions’ own re-assessment of where digital was taking industries and enacting its own digital transition strategy.

The first instance of this was the introduction of the CoreValue business evaluation system to Australia and New Zealand. This was followed recently by QMI’s introduction of its Online Procurement System (OPS) that serves procurement for industry through a fully automated procure-to-pay system.

“These products are already successfully in the marketplace – and Vuable is the third product that we are bringing to market,” Mr McGillivray said.

 “Vuable is another first of its kind and in the form of a dedicated video platform for industry and innovation. We are very proud of that,” he said.

 “The vision of QMI is that QMI helps make new possible … Vuable will help us to supercharge that vision.”








Digital skills ‘found wanting’

DIGITAL disruption is having a debilitating effect on both worker and employer confidence. Employers are worried about skills shortages while workers are worried they do not have the digital skills to guarantee future employability.

In fact, according to human resources (HR) and recruitment specialists, Randstad, one in two Australian workers fear a lack of digital skills.

The quarterly Randstad Workmonitor Report showed over 55 percent of Australians think they need to develop stronger digital skills to guarantee their future job prospects. A further 67 percent believe that digitisation of the workforce requires different skill sets to those available at their current employer. 

With careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) on the rise, and many existing jobs set to become even more digitally focused in the future, Randstad Australia and New Zealand CEO Frank Ribuot said there was more pressure than ever on employers to upskill the workforce.

“Careers across the board are transforming with advances in technology, as we change the way we work, the way we communicate with customers and employees, and the way in which consumers spend and engage with brands,” Mr Ribuot said.

“In response, organisations are adopting increasingly sophisticated digital strategies to maintain a competitive edge and deliver a superior customer experience, but the workforce is not feeling confident their employer is keeping them up to speed with the pace of change.”

Mr Ribuot said if the issue of skills shortages and lack of training was not addressed in the immediate future, Australia risked having a workforce that was not skilled for long-term employability. 

“Organisations across many industries are snapping up talent with these digital skills, but not necessarily upskilling their existing workforce,” Mr Ribout said. “This has led to a gap within the talent pool and that gap will be set to widen if the issue is not addressed. A shift in thinking needs to happen now or we risk a skills shortage in the long term, with a significant section of the workforce ending up unemployable in the near future.”

With 85 percent of the Australian workforce agreeing that every employer should have a digital strategy in place, Mr Ribuot added that focus on training needed to be the priority.

“People are obviously crying out to be upskilled and offering the right kind of training and development will be key to employers attracting and retaining top talent moving forward,” he said.

“This time of year is typically when people reflect and review their careers and consider a change if their needs aren’t being met. Randstad research shows talent is not just attracted to financial incentives, but also skills development, career progression and workplace flexibility.

“While it can seem daunting to train staff from scratch, employers should keep in mind that many skills are actually transferrable.

“Many customer service roles for example have already shifted from interacting face to face, to creating content for social media channels and listening and responding online to customer feedback,” Mr Ribout said.

“The same principles apply, it’s just about shifting our thinking around how service is delivered and how we train and develop our people in these skills.”


Randstad Workmonitor highlights: Jobseeker sentiments in digital age

•        85% of Australians believe every company should have a digital strategy (84% globally).

•        62% of Australians surveyed state their employer has a digital strategy (59% globally).

•        67% agree that digitisation requires different skill sets than currently available with employees at their employer (68% globally).

•        55% believe they personally need to acquire more digital skills to guarantee their future employability (62% globally).