As the South Australian state election edges closer, the opposition has committed to developing a workforce plan in an effort to cash in on the federal government’s $90 billion investment in naval shipbuilding.
Leader of the Liberal Party Steven Marshall said, if elected, the party will audit the existing skills base in the state's local industry and forecast the number of workers needed, and with what qualifications, over the next two decades.
"The size and specialist qualifications of the shipbuilding workforce in South Australia needs to develop significantly to meet the requirements of the federal government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan and reap the substantial rewards on offer for our state," Marshall said.
"The South Australian government must adopt a proactive role in developing a local naval shipbuilding workforce to ensure South Australian skilled workers can meet the future demands of the defence industry."
The Defence Workforce Plan includes funding for 1,200 apprenticeships to ensure there are enough workers available, establishing a new Diploma of Naval Shipbuilding, and funding a Defence Industry Employment Program for ex-service personnel.
The proposed Defence Industry Employment Program will recognise and promote the training, skills and experience of South Australia’s ex-service personnel and support and facilitate a pathway to employment within the defence industry.
The program will operate within the Defence Teaming Centre (DTC) and leverage the existing defence industry relationships of the DTC to promote job opportunities within the sector to ex-service personnel.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne welcomed the latest announcement, saying South Australia is set to benefit from the upcoming naval projects.
"We’re building the Air Warfare Destroyer in Adelaide. We’ll employ 2,000 South Australians to build the Future Frigate here. We’ll employ 2,800 South Australians to build the Future Submarine here. There will be 400 South Australians directly employed to build the first two Offshore Patrol Vessels," Minister Pyne said.
"It’s vital that we have the workforce to do that work, and that’s why I’m pleased a South Australian Marshall government has committed to developing a comprehensive Defence Workforce Plan to work with the federal government, ensuring the skilled workers are available to deliver."