Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

Month: January, 2013

Random Analytics: Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan (Jan 2013)

The start of the New Year has brought fresh lows to the manufacturing sector with the month of January dominated by job losses, business suspensions and a lack of overall confidence.

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Figure 1: Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan 2012 (Jan 2013). Data sourced from Manufacturing Monthly Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

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Figure 2: Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Positive/Negative Index 2012 (Jan 2013). Data sourced from Manufacturing Monthly Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

The four most dominant Workforce Planning stories for January were Employ (47.4%), Engagement (13.2%), IR and WH&S (both of which finished on 10.5%). Engagement (+3) and L&D/R&D (+2) were the most positive while Employ (-12) and WH&S (-4) were the most negative.

The Employ category which tracks employment gains, losses and general sentiment overshadowed the news this month. At 47.4% this category made up almost half of the stories and as Table 1 shows there were 13-negative stories with a total loss 1304 jobs for only one gain of 200-jobs. The high negativity this month was also the worst that I have currently recorded although my data only goes back to July 2012. In terms of sentiment there does seem to be linkages to a slowing construction sector, evident by the largest job loss recorded for the month when Boral axed at least 700-employees after a 100-day review. On a positive note the Indigenous Footy Business hopes to train 200 indigenous Australian’s and take back at least half of the football business which has been dominated by cheaper imports.

Engagement, which includes items such as exhibitions and staff awards, came in as the second most discussed workforce planning item for January. Unsurprisingly it was also the most positive recording three stories, two of which originated from Victoria where the economy is heavily reliant on its manufacturing base and suffering as the sector atrophies.

Equal third most reported for January were IR which tracks industrial actions and WH&S (Work Health and Safety). Industrial relations can be a very dominant story and in August of last year recorded a high of one third of all workforce planning stories. In January IR only reached 10.5% mainly around commentary by union officials including the Australian Workers Union Paul Howes criticism of the Boral redundancy decision. WH&S tracks everything from safety innovations to workplace accidents. Although no major injuries were recorded for January there was at least one work related fatality when a 40-year old man was struck by lifting equipment at a Newcastle based manufacturing plant.

Here is a closer look at the January data.

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Table 1: Data for Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan 2012 (Jan 2013). Data sourced from Manufacturing Monthly Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

Finally, here is a look at the Employment Gains/Losses tracker for 2013.

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Table 2: Employment losses and gains 2013. Data sourced from Manufacturing Monthly Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

In summary, the opening month of manufacturing news has been a continuation on last years theme of a sector still in decline, impacted by many factors but also an Australian dollar which remains stubbornly high (averaging around $1.04 – $1.05 for the month). What will be interesting will be how manufacturing positions itself now that an election has just been called (to be held later this year on the 14th September) and what impact further weakening of this sector might do to the unfolding story.

Update 1 (11/02/2013): During a data validation exercise I found that the stories being released via the Manufacturing Monthly eNewsletter, which I utilised as my primary source of data linkage, did not reflect the complete manufacturing coverage, thus Table 1 has been updated with an additional ‘Other’ article that was missed. As the Manufacturing Monthly news archive captures all the stories I will now be using that as my primary data source, although this will mean a 24-hour delay on Workforce Planning scan updates from February onwards.

Random Analytics: Wide Bay Burnett Regional Research

I’m very excited to announce two research studies for which I completed the analytics between June and December of last year on behalf of Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett (RDA WBB) in my role as chair of the Workforce Planning Sub-Committee which provides supplementary advice, training, support and assistance in the areas of Workforce Planning, Workforce Development and Workforce Analytics.


The Workforce Development Jobs and Skills Matching Study 2013 was developed after nearly 1000 registered job seekers were surveyed in partnership with Wide Bay Burnett Job Services Australia (providers). The study utilised the data to identify key barriers and opportunities for the Region’s unemployed labour force.


The Resource Sector Workforce Mobility Study 2013 is a look at the first 700 Resource Sector workers who undertook the IM4FIFO survey between August and December 2012. The study utilised the data to identify the key barriers and opportunities for the regions mobile workforce. Furthermore this research will establish effective long-term solutions for the Wide Bay Burnett’s existing workforce providing them with better work/life balance solutions while still addressing key industry issues of safety, fatigue management and staff turnover.

Analytics are only a small component of these projects and I have benefited from having worked very closely with two very outstanding individuals.

Grant Maclean, the RDA WBB Chairman has always had a vision for creating a step change for the Wide Bay Burnett region. His guidance and strategic vision has, in my view, made our region standout in terms of focussed outcomes. He has also been a fantastic guide as I had to carefully balance both operational and Board responsibilities for the latter half of 2012.

Although you won’t see his name on the reports, Paul Massingham, the Executive Officer of the RDA WBB has done an amazing job in the creation of these two documents and for my thinking deserves the bulk of the credit for these fantastic publications. In just six months, while managing a small but very capable team he was able to access an enormous amount of data, brief key stakeholders and build strong relationships with three levels of government, the community and industry. It was certainly a bonus for our recently appointed FIFO coordinator, Danielle Andreuzzi to have the data immediately available for the write up of the Resource Sector Workforce Mobility Study. Having worked on analytics (in one form or the other) for over a decade I must say my six months collaborating with Paul in an operational capacity were not only the most productive (I was able to produce more than 80 baseline info-graphics from which our staff can now build and scale) but one of the most enjoyable. Paul’s professionalism, subject matter knowledge, drive and pure energy allowed for quick turnarounds on my input with minimum repeats.

As stated above I think both these studies are fine pieces of Regional Workforce Planning research and if I would commend them to you.



If you need more information about either of these studies or about the IM4FIFO campaign then please contact Paul Massingham at:

Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett

PO Box 1045, Hervey Bay, QLD, 4655 – Phone: 07 4125 9272 – Email: info@rdawidebayburnett.org.au – www.rdawidebayburnett.org.au

As an aside you can also view the IM4FIFO advertising campaign which was broadcast across the Wide Bay Burnett region after the Queensland Minister for Education, Training and Employment, the Hon. Mr John-Paul Langbroek launched the project officially on the 14th August 2012.

Random Analytics: Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan (Jul – Dec 2012)

The two sectors of the Australian economy that will shape the nation in 2013 are mining and manufacturing. Although mining has come under intense pressure in the latter half of 2012 it still has an enormous foreign direct investment (FDI) pipeline and is the envy of the world, especially the US and the European countries that have been battered by the Global Financial Crisis (or the North Atlantic Financial Crisis as I prefer to call it). On the other side of the coin is manufacturing which according to the ABS employed 935,897 people (correct as at end June 2011), although that number has been in decline for some years and it would be lower today and if you believe the data I’m about to present. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) recently reported we have the worst manufacturing productivity amongst the most developed nations.

Australia has significant challenges ahead of it this year and these two sectors, so crucial to the economy but at opposite ends of the spectrum are worth close attention and scrutiny.

Since September 2012 I have been publishing Workforce Planning scans of the Mining industry which has assisted me in thinking ‘Big Picture’ about that sector, with all of its opportunities and liabilities. Over the Christmas break I have been busy looking at Manufacturing Monthly stories between July and December 2012 to get a sense about that sector and its Workforce Planning issues. Given more time I would like to add a second source of qualitative data to create more robust quantitative information but time doesn’t permit at this stage.

Building on my 2012 Mining scans I’ve created two new graphs and added a positive/negative column in the raw data. The first additional graph is a simple Positive/Negative index to show the relevant subject by its ratio of good and bad news stories. The second is a table which outlines job losses and job gains. Unlike most work in this area I’ve detailed the jobs gained by the year they are expected to occur. For manufacturing I’ve added two sector specific categories, that of ImportSub (Import Substitution) to capture employment gained or lost through CAPEX, factors of production and dumping then included AusMade where the Australian brand helps or hinders Workforce Planning issues.

So, here is the first Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan looking at the period July to December 2012.

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Figure 1: Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan 2012 (Jul-Dec). Data sourced from Manufacturing Monthly Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

Like Mining the weight of stories was predominately employment (and most of it negative but more on that later). Unlike Mining there was one month where Industrial Relations dominated the discussion, although you get a sense looking at the stories that the union movement is limited in their capacity to take more direct action, thus they make up the numbers by increased debate.

The other really interesting data that came out of this research is the lack of softer HR stories which permeate through the last half of 2012. In fact there were NO STORIES on Work-Life Fit (aka Work Life Balance) and Skills Shortages and only one story on Diversity! You just know a sector is in trouble when there is little or no talk around the ‘touchy-feely’ HR subjects.

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Figure 2: Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Positive/Negative Index 2012 (Jul-Dec). Data sourced from Manufacturing Monthly Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

For every month the weight of negative employment stories was depressingly high. July was the only month where it seemed that factories closing down or going into administration might not feature but the loss of 440-jobs at Ford after the Australian government gave the company $103M AUD in an attempt to keep people employed.

On a more positive note Learning & Development/Research & Development stories averaged 10.3% for the six months and were generally positive or at worst (October) at least neutral. Although the sector might be in decline both the Australian and Victorian governments (where a lot of Australia’s manufacturing base is located) are not about to give up on it. Of the two negative L&D/R&D stories one was linked to MYEFO budget cuts to funding and the other, ominously was RMIT pulling out of its manufacturing program, when it seems all universities want to add mining related courses (traditionally a very low employer).

Here is a look at the data breakdowns.

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Table 1: Data for Australian Manufacturing Workforce Planning Scan 2012 (Jul-Dec). Data sourced from Australian Mining Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

As noted previously the lack of softer HR data stories was very interesting and something to keep following through 2013. Also of interest was the decrease in overall Workforce Planning stories as compared to mining which averaged 55.3% for 2012.

Last graph, looking at the employment losses and gains through to 2016 and beyond (although this will be more relevant to analysis of the Mining sector).

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Table 2: Employment losses and gains 2012 (Jul – Dec). Data sourced from Australian Mining Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.

Although on the face of it the jobs lost to those gained is 2.2:1 if you take out the projected gain of 1800 jobs in Gladstone Boulder Steel from 2014 the ratio increases to 7.1:1. Even worse, if you consider the jobs lost in the last half of 2012 to the jobs gained the ratio is an appalling 64.6:1! Obviously the data used here is not comprehensive but it does act as a good guide to how the industry is faring.

I’ll leave on a depressing note. As I finalise this piece Stephen Koukoulas, an Australian economist and former advisor to Prime Minister Julia Gillard just tweeted:

“I have changed my view on AUD. 1.20 or even 1.25 possible based on improving global news. Likely to be my Business Spectator column tomorrow”

He is not the first to mention an increased Australian dollar but he is now at least 5-cents higher than others discussing the subject. If manufacturing was suffering with the AUD at $1.05 then an even stronger dollar will mean very interesting times ahead.

Update 1 (10/01/2013): Stephen Koukoulas full 8th January 2013 Business Spectator article on the rise and rise of the Australian dollar (linked with his kind permission).