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Optimism Returning In Australia’s Industries But Cost Control And Talent Remain A Burden

Sydney, Australia – April 11, 2024 – A new report from Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) reveals optimism is increasing in Australian Design and Make industries – including construction and manufacturing – however as digitalisation and sustainability become increasing priorities, cost control, attracting talent and upskilling the workforce are standout challenges.

The 2024 State of Design & Make report is a study of 5,400 business leaders – including 451 in Australia – in industries that comprise the Design and Make category. These sectors include architecture, engineering, construction and operations (AECO), product design and manufacturing (D&M), and media and entertainment (M&E).

According to the report, 78 per cent of Australian leaders and experts say their companies are prepared to handle unforeseen economic or geopolitical challenges – ahead of the global average of 73 per cent, and up from 63 per cent in 2023. The report also found respondents are confident in their companies’ market position: 94 per cent feel they are keeping up with the rate of change in their industry, and 86 per cent say their companies outperformed expectations in the previous year.

Although these figures reflect that the sense of uncertainty brought about by the global pandemic, geopolitical turmoil and economic instability is easing, 63 per cent believe the global landscape feels more uncertain now than three years ago.

And while Australian companies are improving their positions and operations – with many planning new offerings, entering new markets, increasing agility, and diversifying supply chains – the scope of challenges they face has shifted. The report identified that cost control is currently the top challenge (experience by 32 per cent), followed by attracting, training and retaining talent (30 per cent), and environmental sustainability (29 per cent). Interestingly, 18 per cent noted unreliable supply chain as a challenge.

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“For several years, Australian companies across Design and Make sectors have faced multi-faceted volatility, and in many cases, complete turmoil,” said Andy Cunningham, Senior Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand at Autodesk. “While we are still far from calm waters, the nation’s architects, engineers, builders, designers and manufacturers have made notable strides in creating foundations for recovery. As the report flags, we are ahead of the global average in preparedness, moving faster to leverage advanced technologies like AI, and hold much stronger views on the short- and long-term benefits of sustainability on business.

“This is the result of a concerted transition from reactive to proactive positions, and is creating both resilience and certainty for the years ahead, and with it, uncovering new avenues for growth. Crucially, it’s leading to strong competitive advantage for Australia’s industries at a global scale, and stands to help in bringing international talent to our shores.”

Digital advantage

Digitalisation continues to be a centrepiece to driving new outcomes and broadening opportunities for Design and Make organisations across the country. A third (33 per cent) of Australian companies strongly increased investments in technology to deliver improved project outcomes, and 15 per cent strongly increased overall investments.

The predominant results from these digital investments include: improved profitability (seen by 35 per cent), better reputation (30 per cent), improved productivity (29 per cent) and improved data exchange (29 per cent).

There were, however, barriers to digital transformation; 30 per cent identified cost as one of them, and 37 per cent felt the time needed to invest in new tools and ways of working was holding them back.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also steadily making its way into Design and Make sectors. Two thirds (67 per cent) of Australian respondents say they are approaching or have already achieved their goal of incorporating AI into their companies. Additionally, 79 per cent trust AI technologies for their industry, 77 per cent agree AI will enhance their industry and make it more creative, and 67 per cent agree AI will be essential across the board in two to three years.

The talent crunch

Attracting and retaining talent continues to plague Design and Make companies. Leaders want to train and upskill their workforces – 71 per cent agree this is important – but not everyone knows how, and 46 per cent of organisations lack the expertise needed to design effective internal training programs. On a positive note, 71 per cent are implementing continuous learning, and 73 per cent are investing in digital skills training programs.

Over the next three years, the technical and digital skills organisations expect to prioritise are: advanced skills working with building information management (BIM), modelling or 3D design (39 per cent) and software development and programming (36 per cent). This is followed by knowledge of data safety and security (35 per cent), data analytics, mining and insights (35 per cent) and digital skills design (35 per cent).

The emphasis on ramping up digital skills comes down to the fact 71 per cent of companies believe digital maturity helps attract talent.

Sustainability in the spotlight

The last year has seen a substantial shift in attitudes towards sustainability and reducing negative impact on the environment. In 2023, 53 per cent of leaders and experts said sustainability is good for short-term business – in this year’s report, that figure is 82 per cent.

Meanwhile, 77 per cent wish their company prioritises sustainability as much as profits, and 82 per cent believe their company’s sustainability initiatives are a key part of business growth strategy for the next three years.

As organisations take more sustainability-centred actions, report respondents note significant changes in how they feel about their companies’ efforts: today, 81 per cent are proud of their oganisations’ sustainability efforts, compared to 47 per cent in 2023.

About the State of Design & Make report

Autodesk has served the Design and Make industries for decades, giving the company unique access to experts in the AECO, D&M, and M&E industries. For this year’s global report, Autodesk surveyed and interviewed nearly 5,400 industry leaders, futurists, and experts in the architecture, engineering, construction, and operations; design and manufacturing; and media and entertainment industries from countries around the globe. This report contains key findings from this research, including details at the sector and regional level.

Autodesk will update the State of Design & Make report annually.

About Autodesk

Autodesk is changing how the world is designed and made. Our technology spans architecture, engineering, construction, product design, manufacturing, media and entertainment, empowering innovators everywhere to solve challenges big and small. From greener buildings to smarter products to more mesmerizing blockbusters, Autodesk software helps our customers to design and make a better world for all. For more information, visit or follow @autodesk. #MakeAnything



“Australia’s manufacturing industry hasn’t gone through any drastic changes in the last 10 to 20 years, and as it stands, many are still focused on the issues of today – predominately, how to reduce the number of times they can do something. The attention needs to shift to improving performance. This year’s Design & Make report shows positive signs, however our industry must double down on upskilling and reskilling the workforce to thrive in a digital and AI-led economy, identifying where AI can take over repetitive processes to free employees to focus on different types of thinking and high-value work, and adapting generative design to drive greater sustainability. These are fundamental factors that will steer the industry forward as we approach a wave of next generation manufacturing.”

Matthew McKnight, Director for Design & Manufacturing in Australia and New Zealand, Autodesk

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