How Geelong’s Manufacturing Opportunities are changing. What’s next?

It is often hard to accept change. However Geelong has thrived on change.

  • In the early 1840’s, Geelong focused on growing world class wool in the Western District and around Geelong, exporting through a busy port and manufacturing at the woolen mills.
  • From 1925, Geelong was the centre of Ford’s manufacturing facilities followed by Alcoa and Shell.
  • From WW1 until now, industries in Geelong have boomed, plateaued, slowed and collapsed. Many jobs have been lost, for example, at International Harvester and recently, at Ford. Other events such as the collapse of the Pyramid Building Society in the 1990′s, hit the Geelong region hard.
  • Each time, Geelong has set about re-forming. Thousands of new jobs have been created in health, education, the service industry, retail, business, hospitality and tourism.

Now manufacturing is re-focusing in new areas and in new ways.

Recently, Lili Ruiz from Carbon Revolution, Carl de Koning from Quickstep and Jenny Perks from the Geelong Manufacturing Council, spoke on one area of new manufacturing opportunities, to participants at the Skills & Jobs Centre.

Carbon Revolution has grown from 40 employees to 110 employees and are now globally focused on supplying specialist parts to the Auto and Aerospace industries. They:

  • Developed a light, one piece, carbon fibre wheel, which has led to improved fuel efficiency.
  • Employ teams of engineers, industrialists and scientists, particularly materials specialists.
  • Have roles in Geelong and a small number in the UK, Germany and USA.
  • Offer roles in production for process operators, leading hands, product developers, engineers, composite technicians, fitters and turners as well as roles in accounts, finance and sales.
  • Will need more staff and technical support from trades such as electricians and composite technicians, warehousing, OH&S and environmental workers.

Who and what are they looking for?

  • Ex-Ford workers who are familiar with processes and manufacturing environments could be employable, however they will also benefit from completing a course such as ‘Use of Carbon Fibre in Composite Materials’ (a 7 week course @ The Gordon).
  • Personal skills such as Initiative, Innovation, Progressive, Enthusiasm, Conscientiousness and a Strong Work Ethic.
  • A focus on producing quality products and high standards of safety.
  • The right people (which means they suit the company and know about THAT company).

Quickstep is a publicly listed Small to Medium employer, focused on Aerospace manufacturing of parts for wings, tails and complex assemblages. They are trying to achieve lightweight, better performing parts and reduce costs in areas such as portable x-ray machines and aircraft & vehicles parts. They:

  • Developed a process of making parts with significantly reduced manufacturing curing/cooking time.
  • Use composite fabrics (resin and fibre, or concrete and fibreglass) which are placed into moulds and then heated.
  • Employ 25 people and are about 18 months behind Carbon Revolution.
  • Need technicians, process engineers, industrial engineers (particularly automotive), trades and production operators, particularly those with skills in composite materials.
  • Regard it as essential for people to have a blend of technical and operational skills.
  • Need people with a blend of skills, such as experience in the textile or automotive industry or an understanding of resin composites.
  • Expect there will be future opportunities for growth.

Who are they looking for?

  • People who are flexible. The process will not involve working at one work station however similar skills will be required.
  • Completing the ‘Use of Carbon Fibre in Composite Manufacturing’ training package would be relevant.
  • Currently Geelong is the region where production is taking place but in the future if there is a large order for parts in China they will re-direct equipment and processes to that location.
  • He noted that the growth of other manufacturing processes, such as food and wine are focused on local markets.
  • The future for jobs is increasingly technical, with increased automation, and requiring a breadth of skills such as a combination of mechanical, electrical, engineering and computer science.
  • People who are interested in the right solutions designed to fit customers.
  • The company is focused on ingenuity rather than high volume production

How to prepare for applications:

Carbon Revolution:

  • Focus on Selection Criteria: skills need to be clear, as does the reason why you want to work with them, and previous skills gained in manufacturing.
  • A relevant course would be an advantage.

Quickstep:

  • Persistence, follow up email, addressing skills required, demonstrate that you know the company are innovative and motivated.

Geelong Manufacturing Council:

  • Stressed that new areas will be important to the future growth of businesses in Geelong.
  • Emphasised networking, promotion, awareness and understanding of new opportunities at a national and international level, will be crucial for a healthy future.

If you are interested in finding out more about manufacturing in Geelong, book a free appointment with one of the Skills & Jobs Centre advisors. 

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