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South Australian workers and businesses will play a critical role in our nation’s current and future national security.
South Australia will be central to delivering some of the largest and most complex defence projects ever undertaken in Australia, including building Australian conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.
Ensuring South Australia has enough skilled people to deliver these projects requires a coordinated approach across government, industry, unions, and education and training providers.
Over the past year, the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Taskforce – a joint Commonwealth and South Australian taskforce – has worked together and with stakeholders to develop initiatives to support South Australia’s future defence industry workforce needs.
The initiatives provided in the Report generate both near-term and sustained longer-term impacts to address workforce demands, while building on work already underway.
The South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report is a joint commitment between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments, detailing targeted initiatives that directly support attracting, skilling and developing the Defence Industry workforce in South Australia.
Developing the defence industry workforce requires an urgent, focused and coordinated effort.
On 2 September 2022, the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Taskforce (the Taskforce), was announced as a joint State and Commonwealth taskforce by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP; the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP; and the Premier of South Australia, the Hon Peter Malinauskas MP.
Since then, the Taskforce has engaged directly with industry primes; small and medium enterprises (SMEs); defence industry associations; the education sector including universities, schools, TAFEs and registered training organisations; and union representatives, with a focus on six key areas to identify workforce challenges and opportunities.
The current South Australian Defence Industry workforce is around 5,500 including 3,500 direct jobs and a further 2,000 in supply chains. This is forecasted to grow to more than 11,000 by the 2040s including 8,500 direct jobs and 2,900 in supply chains and supporting activities.
This graph demonstrates two key findings: demand for engineering and operations skill sets will experience steady growth from 2025; and there will be a significant and enduring need for skills within the operations job family, predominantly in trade and technician roles.
In addition to the jobs shown, up to an additional 4,000 workers will be employed to design and build infrastructure for the Submarine Construction Yard at Osborne, where Defence will start building Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines by the end of this decade.
Students’ interest and continued engagement in STEM studies across primary and secondary education is critical to creating and sustaining a longer-term pipeline for the future defence industry workforce.
Defence industry requires many people with VET qualifications to fill job roles needed to deliver defence capability programs. More apprentices are needed to start now to meet the future skilled and experienced workforce targets.
Future defence projects and shipbuilding in South Australia rely on having enough higher education qualified graduates to fulfil roles across engineering, program management, supply chain, cyber and computing, engineering, space, and quantum physics.
Attracting entry-level talent is highly competitive. A range of strategies and supports must be in place to attract and retain talent from VET, higher education and beyond to the defence industry.
Supporting mid-career workers to transition to defence industry can make a more immediate contribution to filling the skills gap. Mid-career workers may need initial training to build on their existing skill sets experience.
In addition to the key educational and training initiatives, there are a number of key drivers such as evidence-based decision making, strategic communications and outreach, skilled migration, and security clearances.
Learn more about the establishment of the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Group.
This function will support the coordination and implementation of the Report including delivery of the programs and work with industry, unions, and the education and training sector. It will also conduct regular reviews of key initiatives to ensure they continue to meet the Defence industry workforce needs into the future.
The next phase of activity is the implementation of the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report. This will commence with a detailed co-design process of the proposed initiatives with key stakeholders, including industry, unions, and the education and training sector.
Stakeholders are invited to register their interest in participating in the co-design process with the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science.