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Business elite neglect science skills

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PRESS RELEA^TTPeter McGauran M P -£?Shadow Minister for Science and Technology Federal Member for GippslandBUSINESS ELITE NEGLECT SCIENCE SKILLSAustralia's top managers risk becoming a class of professional , conference-goers, a major science forum was told today.In order to meet tax obligations under the Training Guarantee Act, business leaders arc queuing up tn attend costly seminars and conferences but neglecting to seriously upgrade their core technical and other professional skills.Addressing the Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association . for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) in Adelaide today, the Shadow Minister for Science and Technology, Peter McGauran, said local industries had been starved of sophisticated scientific and technological skills and this had undermined their competitiveness.He said the ability to recognise the value of new technologies and 3 apply them to the workplace was fundamental to economic* competitiveness, but Australia has lost out on both counts."Australia is unique among western economies for the lack of = scientific and technological skillc amongst its managerial elite," he. said,i "Surveys have shown the 411 directors of Australia's top 50 companies| have next to no professional familiarity with scientific disciplines.ij "Of the total number of directors only 28 possess science-related: qualifications, which is vastly out of proportion to theirj representation in the wider community."The remainder have backgrounds in either Law, Accounting, Economics and Commerce♦"Mr McGauran said it was essential industry establish closer, permanent links with the tertiary education sector to rebuild the skills base to the Australian business sector.The universities have not always been open to cooperation with business but that period is now passing," he said."It is therefore a matter of growing community concern training resources are seemingly squandered on seminars and conferences rather than being ploughed into serious participation with the education network."Mr McGauran said the more sophisticated a company's scientific and technical skills the more likely it was to reach international standards of performance."Along with basic cost issues, higher levels of awareness of the value of knowledge-based inputs is the main avenue for improving productivity and innovation across firms," he said.For further information, contact Peter McGauran: 03*347 0164 or 051-44 6744 _________ October 3, 1991CO.viMOi xWEAtJH*parliamentary Library. . ; — ....................... . ............ M iC AH