I have watched with considerable interest the development of the Big Picture Campaign, and it is very pleasing to see the positive side of the story of these industries finally being told.
It also introduces another key element to the story – the Big Picture is not only about 5 industries.
Twenty-six years ago, I was faced with a decision which is much more common to our young people now – to leave Tasmania and seek further experience elsewhere, or to continue to live and work in Tasmania. I had obtained my engineering degree at UTAS, and been heavily involved for some years with providing automation and control systems for large companies in Tasmania, and on the mainland. I could see no reason why we could not provide services to the same standard as any mainland company, and more cost-effectively.
Although many in the community would not associate Cromarty with the large manufacturers, our company now employs over 60 people directly in Tasmania, as well as others in Victoria and Queensland. A very high proportion of these are graduates of UTAS, and TAFE. It is particularly significant that two graduates who joined us directly from UTAS are now Directors of the Company.
We hear much about how our state should be clean, green and clever and it is very satisfying to keep such a talented pool of our smartest people here. Not only that, but they are constantly being challenged and kept interested by being at the cutting edge of automation technology. Another popular misconception is that the big picture industries are “old, low- tech industries”. Try telling that to a Control Systems Engineer involved with fuzzy logic control of a furnace at Grange Resources, or controlling a continuous sheet of Norske-Skog paper moving through a paper machine at around 1 km per minute!
Another Tasmanian advantage is a very stable workforce. With a base of major companies, service companies such as ours are able to invest, and in turn take our services to smaller companies in smaller industries, which have more intermittent needs. Without base load provided by the larger companies, it is much more difficult to achieve the critical mass required. Engineers, IT Professionals and Technicians at Cromarty gain experience in both large and small industries, and on large and small projects, which provides cross-pollination of ideas and further adds to their experience, flexibility and career development.
Cromarty is not unique in the Big Picture. There are many Tasmanian Companies who form another tier of business under the major manufacturers, who would either not exist, or operate on a much smaller scale without them. This is the win-win for both the large manufacturers who are able to source competitive, reliable products and services, and the service companies employing Tasmanians to provide them.