Government report warns start-ups of skills shortages

Australian start-ups will enjoy “green growth” opportunities in the future, but entrepreneurs will have to contend with skills challenges as the economy undergoes major change, a new government report has warned.


The Federal Government recently released the latest Australian Innovation System Report, the second annual report on the performance of Australia’s innovation system.


According to Innovation Minister Kim Carr, the report highlights some of the challenges facing Australian entrepreneurs, including the impact of the global financial crisis.


Other challenges include the barriers to business innovation, namely the lack of skilled workers, and the lack of collaboration between business and researchers.


However, Carr believes Australia is faring well compared to other countries.


“Our performance in the area of research and skills has been above [the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] average and our performance in entrepreneurship is one of the best in the world,” Carr said in a statement.


The report pinpoints technologies that will aid the Australian economy, including biotechnology, nanotechnology and “smart” infrastructure.


“[These technologies] have a range of characteristics that will help generate longer term productivity increases and economic growth to help manage the impact of an ageing population, climate change and other pressures,” the report says.


According to the report, “green growth” has the potential to secure Australia’s future prosperity.


“Consumers are modifying their behaviour to reduce their environmental footprint… by increasing energy and water efficiency, recycling, and avoiding brands with poor green reputations,” the report says.


“In many cases, consumers are willing to pay a price premium for green products, thus opening up green opportunities for business.”


According to the report, innovation for green growth will involve two different processes, the first of which focuses on research and development to invent new technologies and solutions.


“New energy delivery techniques, alternate transport solutions, novel agricultural processes and improved communication tools are just a few examples,” it says.


“Such radical innovation requires the continuous strengthening of Australia’s public sector research capabilities.”


The second process recognises that innovation for green growth goes beyond new technology and inventions.


“It is also about greening the existing economy by increasing resource efficiency and implementing new production processes, business models and communication strategies,” the report says.


“Unfortunately… green growth potential often remains unrecognised or unexplored due to a lack of information, inadequate skills or perception that it is peripheral to the bottom line.”


“In other cases, cleaning up business operations may require significant investment or retooling. Government programs to overcome these failures and ease restrictions on business access to finance will be a big contribution to business embracing green growth.”


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