Far from the car: the case for transformational change in response to the closure of the automotive manufacturing industry
It worries and saddens me that the Australian automotive industry will soon close, particularly when I see high cost manufacturing nations like the United States, United Kingdom and Germany growing their automotive sectors. While I was in Birmingham recently visiting the former Rover/MG manufacturing site at Longbridge, Jaguar Land Rover announced they were recruiting 1300 new workers to build a new five seat Jaguar sports car at their Solihill factory. The CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Ralf Speth said that “Today’s announcement once again demonstrates our commitment to the UK and the advancement of a high-tech, high skilled manufacturing led economy”. These are words that many of us would have liked to have heard in Australia. That was not to be. And so our title, ‘Far from the car’, reflects the automotive industry’s past and present both nationally and locally to South Australia, as our most significant integrated manufacturing value chain, upon which a myriad of other business and households depend. But ‘Far from the car’ is also emblematic of the already-realised fact that swathes of other manufacturing enterprises have been permanently lost over the past half-decade, and of the real and present danger of wholesale deindustrialisation in the future. In simple terms what I mean by this is the emergence of a cycle of self-reinforcing decline, one that flows from the loss of critical industrial capabilities, knowledge and skills, undermining our ability to compete in the global knowledge economy.
©  Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre, The University of Adelaide