skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Defence TAFE Employment Scheme

Defence TAFE Employment Scheme

The Defence TAFE Employment Scheme (DTES) offers students a head start for their career in Defence by supporting their vocational education with practical, paid work experience that contributes to the protection of Australia’s national interests.

As a participant on the Defence TAFE Employment Scheme, you will work as part of the Australian Public Service (APS) where you will be provided with practical, relevant and high-quality work on a part time basis, whilst continuing your vocational education and being paid a full-time salary.

We are seeking the following disciplines in 2020:


  • Engineering
  • Computing/Cyber Security/IT/Networking
  • Logistics/Purchasing


  • Sydney – Logistics
  • Nowra – IT/Networking


  • Engineering - Electronics and Communications


  • Logistics/Business Administration/Leadership and Management
  • Engineering – Mechatronics/Software Communications/Electrical/Electronics

About the DTES

Applications for the 2020 DTES Program have now closed.
Keep an eye on the website for future opportunities!

About the DTES

The DTES is a civilian traineeship scheme designed to support students completing their final year/s of TAFE by providing paid employment combined with ongoing study with guaranteed employment on successful completion of the scheme.

As a DTES trainee you will be provided with the opportunity to use your acquired knowledge and skills to complement your continuing study program with relevant, exciting and practical employment in a unique environment. You will be provided with real-life paid work to practice and utilise your existing skills.

You will work on exciting, real-world projects with leading edge technology in a range of job disciplines, including computing and cyber security, engineering/technology, and logistics.

Depending on your experience, work in Defence will be designed to complement your study program. A training plan including your study and work requirements will be negotiated and signed with your supervisor and educational institution. This plan will involve a mutually beneficial work-to-study ratio during your school semester and full-time work in Defence during semester breaks as negotiated with your supervisor.

Positions are available in various locations around Australia (locations vary from year to year). Those awarded a place on the DTES will commence with Defence in February 2020.

Employment Conditions

Trainees on the DTES are employed as Australian Public Servants (APS), where work-life balances are important and your TAFE contact hours form part of your paid employment. You will receive hands-on experience that is second to none, whilst completing your qualification.

Trainees on the DTES will commence on $49,616 plus more than 15.4% superannuation. Upon successful completion of the program, trainees will be promoted to the APS 3 level at the base rate of $59,237 plus 15.4% superannuation.

Throughout your time on the DTES, you will be provided with workplace rotations and training that is relevant to both your discipline and career development.

You will receive the following additional advantages whilst on the DTES:

  • Excellent working conditions
  • Direct exposure to Defence capability and projects
  • Reimbursement of your TAFE course fees and the cost of required text books/equipment
  • Flex-time to support your work life balance
  • Access to all Defence leave entitlements including Christmas stand-down
  • Guaranteed employment in the Department of Defence as an Australian Public Servant with a starting salary in excess of $59,000 (plus superannuation) upon successful completion of the program

Employment conditions for Defence APS employees are contained in the Defence Enterprise Agreement (DEA) 2017-2020

Eligibility Requirements

  1. To be eligible to apply for employment within the Department you must meet all of the following criteria. Under the Public Service Act 1999 all applicants must be Australian citizens to be eligible for engagement as an employee of the Department. Applicants for the DTES must be Australian citizens at the time of application, or have applied for citizenship. You must be an Australian Citizen prior to entry to the program.
  2. You must be prepared to meet security clearance requirements outlined further below.
  3. You must have completed six months of full-time study (or equivalent) towards an accredited qualification in one of the required disciplines.
  4. You must have the following amount of part-time study remaining when you commence the program:
    • Computing and cyber security – 12 months
    • Logistics – 6+ months
    • Engineering – 12 months
    The following qualifications will be accepted:
    • Certificate IV
    • Diploma
    • Advanced Diploma
    • Associate Degree

DTES Selection Process

Applications for the 2020 DTES Program have now closed.
Keep an eye on the website for future opportunities!

Stage 1

Online Application

Upon registering your details through Defence’s online recruitment portal you will be asked to complete personal information and asked questions which relate to eligibility for the program such as citizenship, current and previous employment and information regarding your current education and future intentions. Please complete all questions; these will be verified at a later stage.

Documentation: At this time you will be requested to upload a copy of your resume, academic transcript/s and citizenship certificate, or proof of citizenship application.

If you do not meet one or more of the eligibility requirements your application will not be progressed further. Responses to Selection Criteria:

During this stage, you will be asked to address the selection criteria.

The election criteria provide a set of measurable standards against which employers can assess your application. Defence uses capabilities identified within the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Integrated Leadership System to measure and rank applicants responses to each question on the application.

You will be required to submit responses against the criteria being assessed. Your responses are limited to a maximum of 400 words per criteria, not 400 words in total. How you prepare your responses is up to you, however, please ensure that you incorporate responses and examples against each criteria.

Applicants are strongly advised to read our Hints and Tips for completing your application (below) prior to submitting their application.

Work Experience / Employment: Applicants should include in this area reference to any work experience and/or employment undertaken. Work experience is not limited to paid employment. Please include any relevant volunteer, internships, and unpaid employment.

Referees: Please note that you will be required to supply details of referees at this point.

Referee reports will be completed for candidates who progress following the interview. The Student Programs team will provide the template for these reports. It is preferred that referees be someone who knows your skills and abilities in relation to work or study, however character referees are acceptable as long as they are not family members.

Applications must be submitted by 31 July 2019

Stage 2

Interview and Written Assessment

If you are considered suitable based on your online application, you will be invited to attend an interview.

The interview will consist of questions related to the selection criteria.

Immediately following the interview, you will be asked to complete a written activity which will be used to assess your thinking skills and written communication.

Interviews are expected to occur in late August/early September.

Stage 3

Final Selection

If your application is successful you will be offered a position on the 2020 DTES which will commence in February 2020. A security assessment and relevant background checks are undertaken prior to finalising your recruitment to the Department of Defence.

Hints & Tips

Before applying for the DTES:

Do your research.

Find out as much as you can about the Department of Defence. In particular, projects or issues relating to your discipline will provide you with topics for discussion within your application or at interview.

The Defence White Paper contains specific information regarding the strategic direction of the Department for 20 years from 2016.

The Defence website contains general information regarding each group/service including news, media releases and reports and publications.

Candidates who demonstrate a genuine interest in Defence stand out during the application process and at interview.

Understand the Selection Criteria

Selection criteria provide a set of measurable standards against which employers can assess your application.

When you apply for a position in the public service your application must address the selection criteria. The written application should provide sufficient and relevant information to allow a selection panel to short-list candidates to the next stage. This should include relevant examples of how you have demonstrated the behaviours/criteria.

When we read your application, we are looking to see examples of how you have met the selection criteria in the following areas:

  • Achieves results
  • Thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Genuine interest in working with Defence

How to best write your response against selection criteria the Star Approach

Taken from Get it Right: A Recruitment Kit for Managers, APSC, 2003; see APSC Cracking the Code for further information.

To structure your response to the selection criteria we recommend that you use the 'STAR' approach. The STAR approach will assist you when responding to the questions asked.

The STAR approach asks you to answer some specific questions, giving examples of when and how you have used your skills.

When writing your response:

  • Use examples from work, TAFE or other areas of your life such as volunteer roles
  • Focus on your own involvement in various situations (use 'I' rather than 'we')
  • Provide recent examples wherever possible
  • Use examples that have a clear beginning, middle and end


  • Situation
    • Briefly outline of the situation or setting
    • Who was involved?
    • What was your role?
  • Task
    • What did you do?
    • What happened next?
  • Approach or Action you took
    • How did you do it?
    • Why did you choose that approach?
  • Result
    • What was the outcome?
    • What feedback did you receive?
    • Was there a measurable component to your result?

Hints to start writing

There are many ways in which you can start writing your responses to selection criteria. The following is just one. One point to stress, however, is to have someone else read over your application for spelling or grammatical errors. This will also help you ensure that you have actually answered the question asked.

  • Look at the question and decide what selection criterion is being asked
  • Write down an experience that you have had concerning that selection criterion. Don't worry about word limits or grammar - just write
  • Get someone else to read it to check you have written about the right criterion. Sometimes you will find you have included more than one
  • Go back through the example again and, using the STAR approach, highlight each area
  • You will then be able to start writing your response, tailoring it to the appropriate criterion and any word limits imposed
  • It is important to remember to state what you did, not what the group, the team, or your supervisor did


What will I be doing while on the DTES?

Trainees are provided with diverse and meaningful workplace rotations of about 6 months each. Depending on the areas you are placed into, you will be provided with specialist training required for the roles, receive on the job training from experienced supervisors and participate in corporate training organised by your program manager. You will join an existing team and contribute to their key deliverables. Interstate travel may be required in some work areas.

Trainees will also have the opportunity to participate in social events with past and current trainees and to visit several bases within NSW to get a first-hand look at Defence capability.

Are you looking for people studying particular disciplines?

Yes. The DTES recruits to the disciplines and areas that are required for a particular area/discipline that have been identified in the Department as a “critical skill”. This means that the numbers may vary from year to year, but will be updated on the website each year.

Can I apply if I am not an Australian citizen?

To be eligible to work in the Defence Department you MUST BE an Australian Citizen (if you are a dual Australian citizen, you are eligible to apply for the DTES). Applicants applying for citizenship at the time of application must have gained citizenship three months prior to commencement of the program.

What does a security clearance involve?

It is a condition of employment in the Department of Defence that you obtain and maintain a security clearance. The level and requirements of obtaining the clearance vary depending upon your intended work area. See our information on eligibility for more information.

For any level of security clearance, you will be asked to provide comprehensive information about yourself, your dependants and give the Department the right to check any information which you provide with relevant authorities such as the Australian Federal Police and financial institutions. Only the candidates who accept a position on a program undergo a security clearance.

What do I need for a security clearance?

You will need to be an Australian citizen to obtain a security clearance. In addition, applicants must have a verifiable personal background/history for at least the preceding:

  • Five years for Baseline clearances;
  • Ten years for Negative Vetting 1 (NV1)/Negative Vetting 2 (NV2); and
  • Whole of life for Positive Vetting (PV) clearances.

Further information is available on the AGSVA website.

What if I am unsuccessful in getting a security clearance?

As the security clearance will form part of the conditions of engagement, if you are unsuccessful in getting a security clearance at the required level, your offer to join the DTES will be withdrawn.


If you have any questions about the DTES program or application process, please email or call 02 6127 2325.