As our world becomes more technologically advanced and automation becomes more extensive, the changing nature of work continues to accelerate.

Although we may not know what the jobs of the future will be, we do know that STEM-related fields will be critical to a thriving economy and the arsenal of a resilient workforce.

The jobs of tomorrow will demand STEM skills, digital expertise, problem solving and critical thinking. Peel Bright Minds believes that the people who will soar in the careers of the future will have three characteristics in common; they will have an aptitude to learn, an interest in STEM and belong to an aspirant community.

The challenge for the Peel is to facilitate the growth of a workforce that embodies these characteristics to avoid being left behind amidst the changes. This will require developing a workforce with transferable skills, one which is well prepared to regularly up-skill, reskill and change jobs. To thrive, Peel will need a culture in which people are aware of and value STEM and see its relevance to their everyday lives and future careers. The workforce will also need to be passionate about using STEM to solve problems and take advantage of opportunities right here in the Peel.

It isn’t always clear what STEM-related job opportunities are available locally, nor is it clear what STEM careers actually involve in real-world application. With the gap between career-education and the demands of industry widening all the time, there is a need to demystify STEM-related careers and show what the future of Peel-based industries look like.

Since 2018, Peel Bright Minds has been on a mission to increase community interest in STEM and digital fields and inspire a culture of life-long learning. This means connecting the community with relevant and accessible learning experiences that inspire aspirant thinking towards training pathways and career decisions.

In partnership with the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, Peel Bright Minds is launching the Industry Insights initiative. The video series feature Peel based organisations who are innovating in their field and developing a workforce that will thrive no matter how technology evolves in the future. The first episode is will be out in December, starring Murray Engineering’s automation and innovation team.

The episode looks at how Murray Engineering’s dedicated innovation team are developing mining technology that will make operations less wasteful, more precise, and most importantly safer. The small team have immense pride for their work and believe that what they are creating with intelligent automation and renewable energy will change the future of the industry.

One of the projects mentioned in the episode is the development of electric vehicles specifically for use on mine sites.

Dr Max Ong, Manager of Innovation and Technology explains that the diesel exhaust emissions underground can be detrimental to the health of workers and the environment.

“A very big challenge in the underground mining industry is diesel particulate emissions especially exhaust gases that can be harmful to your health" he said.

“We’re working on electric vehicles to reduce the amount of emissions, which is also great for the environment because we reduce our use of traditional fuels such as diesel and petrol.”

Although the benefits of electric vehicles are clear, the mining industry needs to be able to apply renewable energy in their day-to-day operations without bottlenecks, extra costs or delays.

"What is unique about our batteries is that they can be recharged very very rapidly using various sources including renewables such as solar or wind energy."

“A regular road car would take 8–10 hours to charge — basically overnight. What we’re working on here at Murray will allow our electric mine vehicles to be recharged within 10–15 minutes. That is quite a breakthrough for the entire industry.”

In addition to electric vehicles Murray Engineering is developing autonomous vehicle technology and various underground equipment features that use intelligent navigation and guidance technology.

Automation and smart sensor technology have the potential to significantly increase Australia’s economic competitiveness, with automation alone set to provide a $2.2 trillion boost to our national income between 2015 and 2030 from productivity gains (RMIT, 2020). Murray Engineering is positioning itself to capitalise on this opportunity. By developing automation technology, they will allow businesses to make better use of human effort, with machines taking over mundane tasks so that employees can focus on skills unique to humans such as critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence. This opens up new opportunities for businesses to improve and optimise their operations.

Murray Engineering is just one example of a Peel-based company that is applying 21st century skills and innovating in their vertical. There are many other local organisations in the Peel region that are solving problems and finding new ways to do things across a range of sectors. By highlighting and cheering on local innovators we can encourage young and emerging problem solvers to keep aspiring and developing their skills in the region.

The continued advancement of technology is inevitable, so the goal of Peel Bright Minds is to empower the local community to embrace and make use of new technology and opportunities. If Peel can adopt and develop new technology in a way that leverages the region’s unique advantages, we will see a greater ability to compete in the market, better decision making, higher standards of living and positive social and environmental change.

This article is featured in the spring/summer 2020 edition of the Peel Magazine.