The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has released new research that reveals the general public’s current perception of Australian manufacturing and its understanding of this critical industry.

Comparing data collected in early 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, to today, AMGC has contrasted the awareness and attitudes toward local manufacturing, showing that support is higher compared to pre-pandemic times. The research reveals that manufacturing is highly regarded by the public, viewed as vital to our nation’s economy, and is critical to maintaining our high living standards. Yet, the full impact of the industry is misunderstood and mismeasured.

The report states that having a holistic view of manufacturing and its impact is crucial, as it affects everything from people’s understanding of our economy to their purchasing decisions and career choices – the latter being highly significant given current skills shortages.

Data highlighted in the report includes:

  • 72% (+7% from 2019) of Australians believe manufacturing is important, or very important to the economy.
  • Double the number of respondents believe manufacturing will get stronger in the coming years, compared to responses in 2019.
  • 79% of Australians perceive trade and export of manufactured goods are important to the economy.
  • Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia rate manufacturing more highly than the Eastern States.
  • The importance of manufacturing is rated more highly in regional areas, compared to metropolitan areas.
  • 69% (+6% from 2019) of Australians believe manufacturing is important to maintain our standard of living.
  • Manufacturing perceived as the seventh-most important industry to the Australian economy (+4 from 2019) relative to other industries.
  • The appreciation of manufacturing and its importance increases with age – for example, ~85% of Australians over 65 agree manufacturing is important to the local economy.
  • 80% of Australians believe it is important to purchase local products where possible.
  • 63% believe these products are of higher quality and 58% noted that locally made products were worth paying a premium for.
  • Almost half of the respondents view Australian manufacturing as high-tech and globally competitive.

Dr Jens Goennemann, Managing Director for AMGC, added: “This latest body of AMGC research demonstrates that manufacturing is highly valued across our population. The industry is well respected for the products it makes, and for the prosperity and opportunities it generates.

“The research reveals that, although manufacturing continues to evolve, our perceptions and measures of this vital capability have room to improve. Critical to this is the narrative the public are presented with from influential sources – which is far more positive than some present.”

The research reveals that the public is less clear as to the value and breadth of manufacturing’s contribution to local jobs, economy, and trade. This arises from a disconnect between the advancement of the industry and the measures used to evaluate it, which fail to recognise many higher-skilled, higher-paying, and more resilient roles across the manufacturing process. This is of importance as it impacts policy development, access to capital, and most importantly the pipeline of future talent – despite the industry being one of the largest employers of engineers and investors in research & development.

AMGC data estimates that manufacturing contributes over $100bn to the local economy each year, representing 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – rather than the often quoted 6%. This same data finds that manufacturing directly employs 1.27m Australians, 30% higher than official figures while creating 3.6 indirect roles elsewhere in the economy for every direct manufacturing role.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said: “Australian manufacturers have stood tall during the pandemic, helping to keep Australians working and our economy strong during what has undoubtedly been the most challenging period in our recent history. It is essential that we have public support for our efforts to strengthen manufacturing. AMGC’s survey is important reading for all involved in Australian manufacturing and a valuable guide for both the industry and government.”

Goennemann added: “Manufacturing is far more than production. Manufacturing is present anywhere something is being designed, made and commercialised – from medications to spacecraft to food. Manufacturing is an enabler, the capability that allows us to sustain ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

“Australian manufacturing is transforming and is one of the nation’s most dynamic industries. Yet, if we do not evolve our understanding and evaluation of this critical industry, we will fail to recognise its true importance and potential to transform Australia from a lucky country to a smart one.”

The full report can be downloaded from: