World View: Focus on Australia

Australia finds itself with an increasingly large service economy. Tourism, technology, and the desire to export finished goods as opposed to only commodities, has pushed it to create higher skilled jobs.

By Dr. Neil Orkin, President, Global Training Systems

Bondi Beach, The Sydney Opera House, koala bears, kangaroos. Is there a training world in the “Land Down Under?” Yes, yes, and yes! Ignore this beautiful country at your own risk. Business opportunities abound in Australia for your organization, and there is an interest and need for human resource development. Your training investment will return a significant profit.

Australia has a large land area—equivalent to the lower 48 states of America. The population of Australia is more than 22 million. Although its diversity is growing, more than 90 percent of the population has European roots, especially from the United Kingdom. The language of Australia is English. Although some vocabulary may be different from North American English, trainers in this country will adjust to Australian English quickly.

With its key location in the South Pacific, Australia has great access and ties to Asia, and serves a leadership role in the region. Australia is a wealthy country with a wide variety of natural resources, including coal, iron ore, and gold. The Australian stock exchange is the largest exchange in this part of the world.

Australia has a literacy rate of almost 100 percent, a very urban population, low unemployment (approximately 5 percent), a democratic political system, and a fairly even income distribution where most Australians feel they are in the middle class.

Where does training fit in? Like many advanced nations, Australia finds itself with an increasingly large service economy. Tourism, technology, and the desire to export finished goods—as opposed to only commodities—has pushed it to create higher skilled jobs. These new positions require specialized education and training. The highly literate population is eager to learn, and welcomes all groups that can help it meet its goals. Training is needed on a variety of topics including: critical thinking, teambuilding, technology, communications, customer service, creative problem-solving, quality (including Six Sigma), time management, and leadership. Much of the training is conducted in major cities, especially Sydney. These programs often are held in hotels or in executive education centers sponsored by universities.

Training Tips

Training in Australia is very different from many countries that have been highlighted in this column previously. Some tips:

  • Formality is not expected and often discouraged. Before your program, ask about the type of clothing you should wear.
  • Don’t announce yourself as “the expert.” This is seen as being pretentious. In this training environment, you will be viewed as a facilitator of knowledge. Your participants want to be acknowledged as educated adults.
  • Be punctual. Be clear on the training hours, including breaks and lunch. Explain what you expect for the program in terms of “ground rules.”
  • Involve participants. Small and large group discussion is valued. Ice-breakers and training games are worth considering.
  • Speak at your normal pace. As English is the language of this country, slowing down your delivery may be viewed as condescending. Of course, using handouts and computer-generated slides will be welcome.

Australia is a key player in this part of the world.Many of the fastest growing economies in the world are big consumers of its products and services. It is already a major financial center in this part of the world. A wealthy, literate, educated population awaits you. Having a presence in Australia and training its workforce will help both Australia and your organization to thrive.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.