Shipbuilder Navantia Australia has signed an agreement to train welders to build the next generation of Australian warships.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding with TAFE SA and the Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA) to establish an Intelligent Welder Training Facility in Adelaide.
Navantia Australia, a subsidiary of Spanish shipbuilder Navantia SA, is one of three firms bidding to build the nine Future Frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.
The new facility will be equipped with the latest augmented reality simulators and welding systems and will run accredited assessments, improve skills of tradespeople and boost the supply of ‘gate-ready’ welding graduates to the defence shipbuilding industry.
It will form the core of the Defence Welding Hub, being established by WTIA to provide training to the defence industry in Adelaide using the latest welder training technology.
Navantia Australia managing director Donato Martinez said they were looking forward to working with new partners TAFE SA and WTIA.
“The success of Australia’s continuous naval shipbuilding program requires the engagement and development of a highly skilled and well-qualified workforce to maintain the highest international standards,” he said.
“In order to begin construction of the Future Frigates in 2020 we need to set the foundations now, particularly the skilled welders who are required at the very beginning of the shipbuilding process.”
Mr Martinez said to grow Australia’s sustainable, sovereign shipbuilding enterprise, it was vital to strengthen workforce training and development programs.
“That’s why Navantia Australia will continue to build strong partnerships with Australian education institutions and industry bodies,” he said.
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Mr Martinez said the success of projects like the Future Frigates relied heavily on the availability of a skilled workforce.
WTIA chief executive officer Geoff Crittenden said they were increasingly aware of the potential shortfall of internationally recognised welders required to deliver Australia’s ambitious $90 billion shipbuilding program.
“This facility will grow an internationally certified workforce and identify skills gaps to allow for the development of future training programs. WTIA is looking forward to working with TAFE SA and Navantia Australia to ensure all new defence equipment is built by Australian welders,” he said.
TAFE SA chief executive Robin Murt said the Future Frigates program would provide unprecedented opportunities for South Australians to embark on life-long careers in engineering, welding and fabrication.
“Through this facility, young people will be able to start developing their skills with a certificate II in engineering in high school, complete an apprenticeship and become welders certified to international standards (ISO9606),” he said.
“They can continue to work as master ship welders or follow training pathways to exciting and varied careers in leadership, management or professional engineering.”
UK shipbuilder BAE Systems and Italian firm Fincantieri are also bidding to build the Future Frigates. The government is expected to announce the winner early next year.