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Australia's managers may be hampering export growth



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AUSTRALIA'S MANAGERS MAY BE HAMPERING EXPORT GROWTH

The poor skills of Australian managers could be hampering the nation's export push and stymieing efforts to stabilise the current account as much as inefficiency on our wharves did in the past, according to a senior Federal Cabinet Minister.

John Dawkins, the Minister for Employment, Education and Training told industry and academic figures in Sydney that recent studies revealed that Australian management has a low commitment to innovation, Australian business affords minor autonomy and reward for innovation and there is

little expertise in, and low priority given to, exports and international marketing.

"We have to face the fact that Australia's managers may be hampering our export push as much as our wharves did in the past, and we must immediately act to correct this," said Mr Dawkins.

He said studies carried out by the Australian Graduate School of Management and the Australian Institute of Management indicated productivity was being hampered and innovation stifled due to poor management communication and a dearth of export and international marketing skills.

"This information and Australia's crying need to boost our productivity and export volumes, means that business and industry must give a much higher priority to management education," Mr Dawkins said.

"However, while our managers may have serious shortcomings, we cannot afford to knock them too much. Indeed, they are the only ones that we have got."

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Nevertheless, said the Minister, Australian managers must improve their communication and export marketing skills and to achieve this, management education must be afforded more resources and higher priority by business leaders.

"While our manufactured exports have rise by 120 per cent since 1983 and have increased their total share of total goods and services exports from 17 per cent to almost 22 per cent, the task of reducing the current account deficit to a sustainable level requires a much stronger export growth than we experienced in the 1980s," said Mr Dawkins.

He said that if import volumes grow at the 1980s average of 6 per cent and our terms of trade remain constant, the nation's exports need to grow at almost 10 per cent a year to stabilise our overseas debt by 1995.

"The Federal Government has placed immense importance on boosting productivity and the skills of the workforce to help increase exports and stabilise the current account.

"Management education must be an integral part of this strategy. In the March Statement the Government committed $6.2 million over the next three years to develop a national strategy to improve management skills. However, there will not be the great change we need in this area unless managers embrace the need to train themselves."

Mr Dawkins said the Training Guarantee,award restructuring and more cooperation between TAPE colleges, universities, industry and trade unions has meant that workforce training now enjoys more support than in the past.

"But as part of creating a more competent workforce, we cannot and must not ignore that unless we have better managers, productivity gains in the workplace may not be successfully translated into import replacement and

increased exports."

September 4,1991

Enquiries: Wayne Bums Mr Dawkins' media adviser

06 2777460