Skilling up the scientists and innovators of the future

April 9th, 2021

CSIRO joins BOP Industries' Innovative Educators Evening to discuss the skills that will be needed in industries of the future.

In March 2021, BOP Industries hosted an Innovative Educators Evening. The event provided an opportunity for representatives from industry and education sectors to come together and discuss their ideas on incorporating concepts of innovation into education. While there was discussion on the changes already underway in many industries, there was a particular focus on equipping today’s primary and high-school students with 21st century skills in entrepreneurship, STEAM and innovation.

Panel members discussing innovaiton in education

CSIRO’s Martijn Mooij, who works in the Product and Design Group in Data61, joined the panel discussion and spoke about the skills that will be needed in the industries of the future, including the future of science and technology development.

The panel was moderated by Scott Millar (Founder and CEO, BOP Industries) and featured industry insights from:

  • Todd Hacking, CEO, Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia
  • Shae Wright, Head of Corporate Technology, Flight Centre
  • Martijn Mooij, Senior User Experience Designer, CSIRO

The panel discussed the changes they have seen in their own industries over the past 50 years, how the global pandemic had been a game changer for different reasons, and explored the skills that will be needed to solve challenges and respond to change in their industries over the next 50 years.


If there is one industry that has had to reinvent itself during the global pandemic, it’s the travel industry – this sector has been at the forefront of change and reinvention. Shae Wright emphasised the importance of communication and change management to maintaining their resilience. She also identified customer service and technology as playing the most important roles across tourism, and the constant need for educating both staff and the end-user about technology changes.

“There has been rapid change in the technology in the tourism industry but it has been important to keep the focus on the end user’s experience of those services”, said Shae.

Heavy vehicles

Similarly, Todd Hacking talked about how the pandemic had made more Australians aware of the heavy vehicle industry in keeping the supply chains of Australia functioning. Todd predicted that the major trends shaping next-generation heavy vehicles were high-tech computerisation and autonomous vehicles, alongside the adoption of next-generation fuels such as hydrogen.

While this would eventually mean the end of trades such as diesel mechanics, the sector needs a new generation of skilled workers to keep Australia running.

Todd pointed out that “the engine of a heavy vehicle runs more lines of code than a Boeing aircraft engine. Next generation vehicles are more technologically advanced than people realise.”

Science and technology

Martijn Mooij described how successful delivery of science and technology requires not only a good understanding of the people impacted by the science we do, but also a need to engage different stakeholders in conversations about how the research will impact them and what that means. He highlighted an inevitable shift in skills, and the need for transcending and integrating our traditional domain sciences.

“As the challenges we face become bigger and more complex, for example, climate change and pandemics, it has become necessary for scientists to work in interdisciplinary teams to solve these kinds of challenges.”

As part of this, the Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform is working with CSIRO Education and Outreach, to develop  a program for responsible innovation engagement for young scientists and innovators focused on helping them develop skills in futures thinking and the use of speculative design. These are approaches that can be used to examine the possible future impacts that an innovation can have and to explore how to shape the innovation in such a way as to achieve best possible outcomes for all stakeholders.

By thinking more broadly about the kinds of skills the next generation scientists and innovators will need, we equip them to build better, brighter futures.