Meeting a skills gap shortage and targeting jobs for the future was the focus of a workshop involving leaders in the advanced manufacturing industry, education providers, and government and community representatives on Tuesday.

Findings from the workshop will contribute to a future roadmap for the Loddon Campaspe region, outlining how it can attract quality, skilled workers and support pathways that encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing.

The Regional Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing skills workshop included key representatives from the City of Greater Bendigo, Bendigo Manufacturing Group, TAFE, La Trobe University as well as Regional Development Victoria.

The workshop complements the development of the council’s new draft economic strategy, which will have a key focus on skill development to support local industries.

Council’s Trevor Budge said findings from several surveys last year revealed the skills gap shortage in the manufacturing industry was a major concern, prompting the need for the REAM skills workshop.

“Despite positive economic growth, businesses in the region continue to report difficulty in attracting the right skills and some areas continue to be in high demand, such as welders, so we need to take action to ensure the local manufacturing industry remains strong now and into the future,” Mr Budge said.

Bendigo Manufacturing Group chair Mark Brennan said the local industry, education providers and levels of government needed to work together to future-proof the sector.

“Connecting skills and meeting the skills gaps is top of the agenda for the future growth of the region. The workshop will identify current workforce needs, discuss how to better engage school leavers and attract quality workers to the region, and consider how to shake off preconceived ideas of the manufacturing industry,” Mr Brennan said.

“We must work together to address the skills gaps and find ways to strengthen the partnership between industry and education to create a positive image for the sector.

“This is an opportunity to promote the local manufacturing industry as a great career choice and promote our region as a great place to work and live in, setting us apart from our competitors.”