March 20, 2018
Patrizia Torelli is the Chair of the Furnishing Industry reference Committee. She is Chief Executive Officer for the Australasian Furnishing Association, the national peak body for the furniture and furnishing industry.
Tell us a little about yourself and your industry experience?
As Chief Executive Officer for the Australasian Furnishing Association, I lead the strategic direction of the national peak body across the entire supply chain.
I have worked at an executive level in a broad range of industries including manufacturing, sport, education, multicultural, construction, community and business development. This gives me a broad range of different perspectives to draw on in furthering activities in my current role.
I’ve gained significant expertise in organisational change management from my experiences. Change management uses a balanced leadership approach to execute business strategies and direct turnarounds and transitions in tough markets which provides insights into the changing skills needs for our industry.
Why are you passionate about vocational education and training?
The future world of work looks vastly different to what we see today. It is exciting to envisage Australia’s role on a global scale. We are clever, innovative, dynamic and responsive and our training should further our industry’s ability to be globally competitive.
As leaders, we need to focus on making vocational education and training attractive and engaging to customers of the system.
The most important link in the chain is the student – after all, they are the next generation of leaders and if the training is great, then so too is our future.
What’s the next big thing in your industry?
Environmental and sustainable solutions, disruptive technologies, 3D printing, new materials, augmented reality, the list goes on. The next big thing is all these and more!
The next big thing will be what some bright spark develops which then becomes a trend or a solution for industry. The use or implementation of this ‘solution’ will then require training to upskill the workforce to design, manufacture and distribute.
What are the emerging skills needs in your industry?
Based on the research we have undertaken at the Australasian Furnishing Association and the feedback from industry stakeholders, the following emerging skills are seen as major priorities for the next 3-5 years:
- Upskilling the fitted furniture workforce to safely install fitted furniture
- Estimating skills, particularly around the preparation of tenders and managing projects, to improve an organisation’s competitiveness and lift worker’s capabilities as business models become more sophisticated
- Improved understanding of Australian Standards and compliance requirements for the manufacture, distribution and repair of fitted and free-standing furniture
How can we make the training system better?
The training system must fulfil a number of specific workforce upskilling needs and enable nationally recognised skills acquisition. Skills should also be accessible in discrete and specific areas, where appropriate, without the need to undertake a full qualification.
The Vocational Education and Training system needs to be flexible and responsive to address specific industry skill needs.
VET should provide training options to better facilitate progression to full qualifications.