Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Support

The Australian Government is investing $270 billion in Australia's defence capability over the next ten years.

Defence capability means the products, services and technology our Australian Defence Force (ADF) needs to do its job – keep Australia safe. That’s everything from vehicles and equipment, to Artificial Intelligence technology and robotics, to IT and administration.

To get the best defence capability for the ADF we need the best and most skilled people to deliver it. This means growing a sovereign industrial base here in Australia, a “defence industry”, with a highly skilled and Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) specialised workforce.

Growing the Australian defence industry will see an increase in demand for Australian workers with trade, technical and science and technology skills. These people will build and maintain fleets of new ships, submarines, armoured vehicles, infrastructure and facilities. They will contribute to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber and other electronic and information-based capabilities. They will also design, construct, integrate and sustain these capabilities here in Australia.

There are thousands of small-to-medium enterprises employing many more Australians across the country that aren't in the Australian Defence Force, but work to support and strengthen it.

There are significant opportunities for Australian workers and businesses already supporting Defence and those working in other industries to be part of our defence industry.

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

The Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy -(PDF 2.5MB) shows how the Government will help Australian defence industry to meet its workforce skills requirements over the coming decade.

It is a key part of the Government’s long-term vision to build and develop a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industrial base that is able to meet defence capability requirements.

The Strategy focusses on four key areas:

  • Engage: Improving access to information about defence industry career opportunities and increasing support for the national effort to improve the take up of STEM studies and careers.
  • Attract: Providing support to defence industry businesses to grow and attract a national defence industry workforce.
  • Train and Retain: Encourage investment in skills and provide support to defence industry businesses to train and sustain a national defence industry workforce.
  • Collaborate: Facilitate stakeholder collaboration and coordination, to improve longer-term sectoral understanding to better predict and address future workforce needs and to enable quicker responses to defence industry workforce needs from key stakeholders.

The strategy aligns with the Naval Shipbuilding Plan which outlines the Australian Government’s vision for the Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and the significant investment required in coming decades. The strategy is also aligned with the Naval Shipbuilding College initiative.

Naval Shipbuilding College

The Government’s Naval Shipbuilding College (the College) supports the National Shipbuilding Enterprise (the Enterprise) through a strong partnership with industry and the education and training sector to build an Australian workforce of competent, productive and skilled naval shipbuilding and sustainment professionals.

Working closely with the Australian Government and industry, the College continues to build a maturing picture of the anticipated shipbuilding workforce demand and supply over the next decade and beyond.

The College operates a hub-and-spoke model that enables students to undertake courses through College-approved registered training organisations or higher education providers across Australia.

In June 2021, the College launched JobsPortal to help jobseekers find work within the naval shipbuilding sector. The JobsPortal allows jobseekers to search for vacancies within the shipbuilding industry, update their job profile, select target organisations and apply quickly and securely. Job opportunities range from trades to PhDs. The JobsPortal also allows industry recruiters to connect with qualified workers registered on the College’s National Workforce Register.

The National Workforce Register enables Australians interested in long term shipbuilding career opportunities to express their interest and receive assistance through the skilling and employment process and connect people with potential employers or education providers.

For further information, or if you are interested in learning how you may be involved in naval shipbuilding, as a prospective student, a worker or a potential industry, education or training partner, please register your interest through the Naval Shipbuilding College website.

Defence Industry Skills Support

Defence supports a number of initiatives designed to:

  • increase student knowledge of the defence industry sector
  • clarify work and career pathways into defence industry
  • help expand the pool of skilled workers from which defence industry is able to recruit
  • help support specific skills within defence industry capability.

Funded initiatives

The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grant Program

The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) Grant Program helps defence industry Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Industry Associations upskill and train existing defence industry employees in trade, technical and professional skill sets.

The grants also help Defence SMEs to establish human resources practices and training plans that will help build lifelong learning activities into their business -supporting workforce development, training needs and retention.

For further information on the eligibility criteria and how to apply for a Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grant, please visit the Skilling Australia's Defence Industry website.

Defence Industry Internship Program

The Defence Industry Internship Program links 3rd and 4th year engineering students with defence industry sector Small to Medium Enterprises by sponsoring the industry placement component of their studies.

The program specifically targets engineering streams 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 industry.

For further information on the next round of registrations for students and host SMEs visit the Defence Industry Internship Program website.

The School Pathways Program

The School Pathways Program aims to inform young Australians about the varied pathways and career opportunities within the defence industry sector.

The Program facilitates an understanding of defence industry; provides access to defence industry career experiences; provides access to mentoring and networking opportunities and encourages student participation in STEM activities and/or subjects that will lead to an increase in the pool of young people with the knowledge and skills to purse defence industry careers.

For further information about the work being completed by our current School Pathways Program grant recipients and how you can become involved, visit the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation website at the Regional Development Australia – Hunter website.

The Defence Industry Pathway Program

The Defence Industry Pathway Program was developed in partnership with WA’s South Metropolitan TAFE and the State’s maritime defence industry.

The program aims to give school-leavers and others an initial experience in Defence industry through placements with relevant employers. It also provides participants with a Certificate III in Defence Industry Pathways from Western Australia’s South Metropolitan TAFE.

Running over 12 months, with up to 120 trainees taking part through to 2023, the goal is to build the nation’s future Defence industry workforce by showing school-leavers and those looking for a career change what Defence industry options are available, as well as introducing them to its workplace culture.

To find out more visit the Defence Industry Pathways Program website.

National Defence Industry Skills Office

Defence has streamlined governance and policy for defence industry skills issues into the National Defence Industry Skills Office (NDISO). The NDISO engages with stakeholders, individually and collectively, including states and territories, industry, and the education and training sector, to create a common picture of defence industry skills needs and risks, and to map a way forward.

The NDISO acts as a single point of contact within the Department of Defence for industry skilling and STEM-related engagement and leadership.

Email for more information.

Office of Defence Industry Support

The Office of Defence Industry Support (ODIS) is the one-stop-shop for Defence industry support and guidance. ODIS provides a seamless experience for business to engage with Defence. It is the trusted link for Australian small and medium enterprises looking to enter or expand their footprint in the Defence industry.

The core function of ODIS, through its offices around Australia, is to provide advisory, guidance and mentoring services to SMEs. ODIS also works with State and Territory agencies, industry associations and Defence business partners, to position the Defence industry to deliver capability that equips and sustains the Australian Defence Force.

To find our more visit the Office of Defence Industry Support webpage.

Grant recipients

The Commonwealth grants guidelines require Defence to publish information on its individual grants for transparency and public accountability.

Details of grant recipients will be published no later than 21 working days on the GrantConnect website after the funding agreement takes effect.

This information will be retained on the website for at least two financial years.

Reporting for grants is now hosted on the Department of Finance's GrantConnect website.