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Strategy, Policy, and Industry

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.

This investment is expected to deliver significant opportunities for Australian industry and generate an increasing demand for a highly skilled and STEM specialised workforce.

This includes an increase in demand 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 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 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

On 28 February 2019, Minister for Defence Industry the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, launched the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy (PDF-2.5MB).

The Strategy details how the Government will help Australian defence industry to meet their workforce skills requirements over the coming decades. 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 is 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 is also aligned with the Naval Shipbuilding College initiative.

Download a snapshot of the Strategy (PDF-275KB).

Naval Shipbuilding College

The Naval Shipbuilding College (the College) works with key stakeholders to ensure a suitably skilled and qualified Australian workforce is available at the right time to meet industry's needs in delivering the naval shipbuilding enterprise.

The College was opened on Thursday 1 November 2018 by the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Defence. The College is managed by the Naval Shipbuilding Institute (NSI (Aust) Pty. Ltd.), a joint venture between Kellogg Brown & Root and Huntington Ingalls Industries and is headquartered at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

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

In addition, the College has established the Workforce Register of individuals with skills, knowledge and capabilities relevant to the naval shipbuilding enterprise. The Workforce Register enables Australians who are interested in long-term shipbuilding career opportunities to express their interest and receive assistance through the skilling and employment process, and to connect people with potential employers or education providers.

The College is currently engaging with a range of stakeholders from the shipbuilding, supply chain and sustainment industry, and the education and training sector.

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 the defence industry sector; help expand the pool of skilled workers from which defence industry is able to recruit; and help support specific skills within defence industry capability. Currently funded initiatives include:

  • The Defence Industry Internship Program (DIIP) 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. As part of the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy, 20 additional places will be offered on the DIIP in FY19-20, bringing the total places to 50 students per year.
  • The School Pathways Program (SPP) 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. This program will receive $2.6m investment in 2019-20 under the Strategy, encouraging student engagement in STEM and STEM-related career pathways.
  • Defence will stream line governance and policy for defence industry skills issues into a National Defence Industry Skills Office (NDISO). The NDISO will engage with stakeholders individually and collectively, including the states and territories, industry and the education and training sector, with the goal of helping to create a common picture of defence industry skills needs and risks.

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

Schools Pathways Program 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 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.

Schools Pathways Program grants reporting

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

Previous financial year Industry Skilling Program Enhancement (ISPE) Schools Pathways Program (SPP) grant 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.

Under the Defence Industry Skilling and Strategy, $4m will be invested to establish a new model of skilling support grants, to be administered through the CDIC. This will focus on improving accessibility for small and medium enterprises (SME) and reducing barriers faced by defence industry in up skilling or retraining their people. The updated grants program will provide greater flexibility and targeted options for SMEs to directly apply for discrete skilling support for training and skilling activities in trade, technical or professional skillsets; increasing the quality and quantity of skilled personnel available in defence industry.

Please contact 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: