Media release: Renaissance Reborn: Mixing Skills For Smarter Firms

Australia’s top-flight innovators will draw on a mix of skills – creative, business and technical– to tap new sources of wealth, according to a new report.

(access report here)

Skills and capabilities for Australian Enterprise Innovation, from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), provides a window into the business practices of innovation leaders today, and insight to the expectations on workers in the decades ahead.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, who will launch the report in Melbourne on Thursday 21 July, encouraged students as well as employers to learn from the lessons of success.

“Alfred Hitchcock trained as an engineer. Margaret Thatcher trained as a chemist. People who combine deep learning in a discipline with the insight to think and work beyond it can catch opportunities that others miss.

“The same is true of teams in the modern workplace: they need to mix depth of expertise with breadth of perception and skills.”

The report finds skill integration is a strong and growing theme in the workplace strategies of 19 case study enterprises, including the iconic Cochlear (medical technologies), Envato (technology solutions for creative assets), Cotton Australia (agriculture), Pernod Ricard (global wine marketers), Laing O’Rourke (large-scale engineering and construction), and Woodside (mining).

Professor Stuart Cunningham, Chair of the Expert Working Group, said: “These enterprises have excelled in their fields by taking a long-term strategic approach to attracting and building a diverse and inclusive workforce, capable of fostering individual talent and driving business-wide success.”

The pay-off in a strong skills integration approach result is a team that harvests good ideas, generates more valuable innovations, and pursues the potential to better effect.

The report supports other analyses into trends in the future of work, such as the work of AlphaBeta’s review of 4.2 million job advertisements in the last three years. It found a 212% increase in jobs demanding digital literacy, a 158 % rise in jobs demanding critical thinking and a 65% rise in jobs demanding creativity.

Professor Cunningham said the report clearly identified that while STEM expertise is necessary, deep content knowledge and technical skills need to be complemented by other disciplines. Regardless of their primary qualification, all future workers will need the broader attributes to constantly reinvent their businesses and jobs.

“Australian decision-makers must begin to acknowledge this and build it into their priorities, processes and messaging to the Australian people,” he said.

The report is available on 

For more information or to arrange an interview with Professor Stuart Cunningham, contact Penny Underwood or John Myers, MediaWise on (03) 9818 8540 or

Social media: #ACOLAInnovation @ACOLA_Aus


ACOLA is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that supports evidence-based interdisciplinary research. ACOLA combines the strengths of the four Australian Learned Academies: Australian Academy of Science, Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, Australian Academy of the Humanities and Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Expert Working Group

Prof Stuart Cunningham AM FAHA (Chair)
Prof Peter Gahan (Deputy Chair)
Ms Christine Zeitz
Mr Ken Boal
Prof Victor Callan FASSA
Prof Tam Sridhar AO FAA FTSE