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Defence Strategic Policy and Intelligence Group

Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Support

The Australian Government is investing $200 billion in Australia’s defence capability to ensure Australia remains secure, well into the future.

The modernisation of Australia’s defence capability is being accompanied by a strengthening of Australia’s defence industry, creating opportunities for Australians to use their expertise, experience and trade and technical skills to supply and support the Australian Defence Force – these people are The Workforce Behind the Defence Force.

There are around 3,000 small-to-medium enterprises employing over 25,000 Australians across the country that aren’t in the Australian Defence Force, but work to support and strengthen it.

Over the next decade and beyond, demand will increase for Australian workers with trade, technical and science and technology skills to build and maintain fleets of new ships, submarines, armoured vehicles, infrastructure and facilities, and contribute to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber and other electronic and information-based capabilities. Australian design, construction, integration, sustainment, services and support capabilities will all be critical.

There will be significant opportunities for Australian workers and businesses already supporting Defence and those working in other industries to be part of our defence industry. Defence is helping to grow The Workforce Behind the Defence Force through a number of initiatives.

Defence Industry Skilling and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Strategy

The capability of the Australian Defence Force must be at the leading edge, but to remain at the leading edge, Australia will increasingly rely on a diverse workforce both in Defence and defence industry with people with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Developing and nurturing Australian children to develop their STEM skills is essential so that there is a strong future workforce able to meet the demands of rapidly changing technology. This future workforce must be encouraged in our schools and tertiary institutions and supported through dedicated programs to achieve fulfilling careers in defence industry.

Defence, supported by the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, is developing a long-term Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy to help Australian defence industry to have a workforce with the right skills to meet future capability requirements and to support the delivery of the Integrated Investment Program (PDF).

Development of the strategy will be informed by consultations with the states and territories, commonwealth agencies, industry, and the research and education sectors. This strategy is due for release around mid-2018.

The strategy will be aligned with the Naval Shipbuilding Plan released on 16 May 2017 which outlines the Australian Government’s vision for the Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and the significant investment required in coming decades.

The strategy will also be aligned with the Naval Shipbuilding College initiative announced on 24 March 2017.

Naval Shipbuilding College

Australia’s naval shipbuilding enterprise will need a highly capable, productive and skilled naval shipbuilding and sustainment workforce.

The Australian Government announced on 24 March 2017 an initial investment of $25 million to establish a Naval Shipbuilding College to be headquartered in South Australia, under a hub and spoke model, involving education and training providers across Australia.

The Naval Shipbuilding College will provide opportunities for national collaboration in the education and training of high-quality candidates for future employment in the naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry. It is expected the college will attract, train or retrain more than 1,500 students across the country in its first few years of operation.

Defence and the Department of Education and Training are undertaking a tender process in 2017 to identify a provider, or consortium of providers, to implement the college from early 2018, working closely with the selected builders of the offshore patrol vessels, future frigates and future submarines.

Industry Skilling Program Enhancement

The Industry Skilling Program Enhancement (ISPE) initiative consists of two programs that aim to:

  • expand the pool of skilled workers from which defence industry is able to recruit
  • enhance work and career pathways, and
  • address specific skills gaps within defence industry capability.

Currently funded initiatives include:

  • Defence Engineering Internship Program
    The Defence Engineering Internship Program links 3rd and 4th year engineering students with defence sector small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) by sponsoring the industry placement component of their studies. The program specifically targets engineering streams that are considered by defence industry to be in short or critical supply, and aims to give student engineers a better understanding of the critical work performed by our defence SMEs.
  • School Pathways Programs
    The School Pathways Programs (SPPs) were established with the aim of addressing the skills shortage in defence industry by increasing the pool of young people ready to move from school into further education, apprenticeships, internships, scholarships and work/study combinations in defence industry. These programs specifically seek to increase the number of students undertaking science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, and provide career pathways for young people wanting to enter defence industry.

ISPE Grant Recipients

The Commonwealth Grants guidelines require Defence to publish information on its individual grants for reasons of transparency and public accountability. Details of grant recipients will be published no later than 14 working days after the funding agreement takes effect. This information will be retained on the industry skilling support website for at least two financial years.

School Pathways Program grants reporting:

ISPE grant guidelines and agreement:

Capability Improvement Grants

The Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) was launched in December 2016 and is designed to help transform the Defence and industry relationship, and to fund new industry development, critical skilling and export programs, as well as facilitate access to Defence's new innovation programs for SMEs.

As part of an advisory or facilitation service, business advisers may make specific business capability improvement recommendations. To assist with implementing these recommendations, businesses may be entitled to apply for a Capability Improvement Grant to obtain reimbursement for up to half the cost of engaging a consultant or expert to implement the eligible recommendations as provided in the advisory or facilitation service report. This may include undertaking skills development training.

Please contact the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) for further information and assistance with capability improvement grants.

Previous Programs

Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Program

The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) program was established in 2005 to grow the skills base of the Australian defence industry. Over the life of the SADI program, funding was provided to around 200 defence suppliers. The SADI program is currently closed to applications as advisory and facilitation services are now available through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to help SMEs improve their business capabilities and to help them take advantage of development opportunities within the defence sector.

Previous recipients of SADI grant funding:

Other Work Experience and Careers Programs in Defence