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Defence supports SA defence industry workforce growth

The Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles and the Premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas, have released the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report and Action Plan, delivering a detailed strategy to grow and sustain South Australia’s defence industry workforce for the future.

South Australia will be the build site for the RAN’s new nuclear-powered submarines as well as its next generation of surface combatants.

Through the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Taskforce, the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments have engaged with industry, unions and education and training providers to deliver an integrated workforce and skills plan.

This plan will ensure the necessary support for the delivery of some of the nation’s most complex defence projects, including Australia’s conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines and continuous naval shipbuilding.

These capabilities will only be realised through the strength of a highly educated and highly trained workforce, equipped with cutting edge skills for the future.

“The challenge to grow and sustain a highly skilled defence industry workforce cannot be understated, but neither can the opportunity,” said SA Premier Peter Malinauskas.

“The South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Taskforce has enabled our South Australian and Commonwealth Governments to work together towards a common goal – an agile and highly skilled local workforce equipped to execute Defence’s most complex national security projects.

“It is my hope the integrated workforce and skills plan for South Australia can be used as a best practice model for workforce expansion across the defence industry nationally.”

The Report details 22 initiatives to further address workforce challenges and grow the South Australian defence industry workforce from 3,500 direct jobs to more than 8,500 in the 2040s.

These tangible and solutions-focussed initiatives will:

  • Engage an estimated 27,000 students and 1,500 teachers in at least 180 South Australian schools to support STEM education pathways for students
  • Establish an industry capability pipeline of around 2,600 additional VET and university students through flexible training programs, technical colleges and STEM focused higher-education places
  • Employ more apprentices, graduates and undergraduates through the Early Careers Program with more than 70 young Australians to join the program this year
  • Engage and upskill experienced workers and industry leaders through mid-career transition programs, the Skills and Training Academy and Defence Industry Leadership Program
  • Improve workforce data and insights across industry and government
  • Promote defence industry workforce opportunities, and better connect jobs with potential candidates through a multi-tiered communications strategy
  • Strengthen STEM evaluations through a consistent methodology and support industry to sponsor security clearances to engage highly skilled workers from our AUKUS partners

Growing the defence industry workforce in South Australia requires a coordinated and collaborative approach.

The Commonwealth and South Australian Governments look forward to continuing their close engagement with sector leaders and industry and union partners on this significant undertaking.

Implementation of the package of initiatives will commence from 2024.

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