Australia's peak body for Aviation and Aerospace is convening the sector's first national Skill Summit, coinciding with the release of a discussion paper on how industry can drive more targeted public investment in training to deliver the skills and human resources that it requires.

Aviation/Aerospace Australia CEO Jim Carden said the inaugural 2012 Aviation and Aerospace Skills Summit on 31 July would hear from airlines, manufacturers, governments, TAFEs and universities; and was the first of its type to attempt to take a whole-of-industry approach to matching skills demand and supply.

After several years of industrial upheaval and political debate, the summit was critical to get the focus back onto developing a sustainable industry, he said.

"There has been a focus on issues such as offshoring and the future of aircraft maintenance, but the fear is that this debate could be masking a wider skills shortage in Australia's aviation and aerospace industry.

"Just like our automotive sector, Australia has to decide if it wants an aviation and aerospace industry; and if we are prepared to take the steps needed to translate our hard-won reputation for leadership and innovation into opportunities in growing markets on our doorstep.

"If the answer is yes, then we need to focus on what skilled resources are required and ensure our trainers, universities, apprenticeship programs and even our secondary schools are equipped to provide them.

“Long-term planning is fundamental to the future of an industry with long lead times and complex R&D and construction processes.

“Matching skills to needs is one of our greatest challenges, and what we do now will have significant consequences for our competitiveness and productivity for decades to come."

The inaugural Aviation and Aerospace Skills Summit is being held at RMIT University in Melbourne on 31 July.

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