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Australian Workers Missing the Mark on Asia


14 September 2015 at 10:08 am
Xavier Smerdon
One third of Australian workers have very little or no ability to effectively interact with people from Asian countries or backgrounds for work purposes, despite seven out of Australia’s top 10 export markets being in Asia, a new report has found.

Xavier Smerdon | 14 September 2015 at 10:08 am


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Australian Workers Missing the Mark on Asia
14 September 2015 at 10:08 am

One third of Australian workers have very little or no ability to effectively interact with people from Asian countries or backgrounds for work purposes, despite seven out of Australia’s top 10 export markets being in Asia, a new report has found.

The Diversity Council of Australia surveyed more than 2,000 Australian workers to generate the first ever National Scorecard of Australia’s Workforce Asia Capability.

The report found that there was a strong business case for developing “Asia capability” (AQ) – an individual's’ ability to interact effectively in Asian countries and cultures – constitute 66 per cent of our total export market.

While one in ten, 10.8 per cent, of all Australian workers have excellent AQ, one third, 34.7 per cent, have none or very little, the report said.

Close to two thirds of workers have no or very little working knowledge of how to effectively manage in Asian business contexts and overall Australia’s workforce scored three out of five for AQ.

Diversity Council of Australia CEO, Lisa Annese, said the research revealed important findings for Australian business.

“There is little doubt that Asia presents enormous opportunities for Australian organisations. But what’s been less clear is how well equipped we are to grasp these opportunities,” Annese said.

“Through this research, we can now see how and what we need to do to cultivate workforce Asia capability in organisations. The good news is that the solution is already available to us – if we focus on existing Asian-identifying talent, as well as better recognising and rewarding workers who have lived and worked in Asia, and those who have Asian language proficiency.”

The Diversity Council of Australia identified seven key AQ domains that were associated with Asia capability, in particular those associated with positive organisational outcomes: Cultural Intelligence; Asian Cultural Knowledge; Asian Cultural Experience; Asian Language Proficiency; Asian Social Capital; Asian People Management Lens; (Asian) Multicultural Identity.

The organisation commissioned Colmar Brunton to conduct a nationally representative on-line survey of 2,000 Australian workers against these criteria.

Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra, who partnered with the Diversity Council of Australia on the report, said for many Australian companies, the key issue was no longer the risk of doing business in Asia, but rather there was a risk of not doing business there.

“It is critically important Australian companies develop the capabilities to succeed in the region. Among many others, those capabilities include the adoption of a global orientation, embracing new technological capabilities and improving the Asia-literacy of their people,” Penn said.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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