Margot Forster told Defence Connect the much needed partnership between education and industry sectors is underway, with the upcoming launch of the Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium (DIESC).
The DIESC is an initiative of a cross-state group of universities, vocational providers and industry bodies with the aim of providing a practical solution for effective co-ordination of education and skills in the defence industry sector.
In response to a recent Defence Connect article, which discussed the risks of a STEM shortage in Australia, Forster said, "Robust co-operation between universities, vocational sector and defence industry organisations is already happening between South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.
"DIESC, which includes higher and vocational education and providers, is an outstanding example of collaboration in support of the long-term needs of the defence industry."
Established in South Australia in March this year, Forster added that "the formation of the DIESC is evidence that Australian universities, colleges and industry groups are acting to bring their best resources to support the long-term future of defence industries".
"With large scale and long-term defence industry projects coming on line in Australia we have a unique opportunity for industry, government, education and training providers to collaborate to deliver a trained, upskilled and reskilled workforce and to deliver relevant research and solutions-focused industries," she said.
"Driven by universities and TAFEs, we now have a powerful national consortium which reaches across borders and will be working to deliver what defence industry needs, whether that be highly skilled workers or adaptation and innovation in technologies and systems."
The DIESC members are RMIT University (Vic); TAFE SA; South Metropolitan TAFE (WA); the University of South Australia; the University of Adelaide; Flinders University (SA); Edith Cowan University (WA); the Indigenous Defence Consortium; and the Defence Teaming Centre.
The official launch of DIESC will be in October at Pacific 2017.