South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has announced a flagship program that connects SA university students with defence companies as the state gears up for a range of major Defence programs.
The program will strengthen the state’s future skilled workforce, and help students take advantage of the opportunities on offer within SA’s $90 billion defence industry.
Applications are now open for the first round of the Premier’s Defence Industry Scholarship Program, which will offer $600,000 in scholarships over three years and support eligible students to gain defence industry experience through work placements with local defence companies.
Sixty scholarships of up to $10,000 are available to third year and honours university students who are completing a degree in science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) or business students majoring in project management or logistics.
The state government is encouraging small and medium defence businesses to support the placement of eligible students.
Premier Marshall said the scholarship program will help to maximise job opportunities in the defence sector and boost skills development by partnering with the state’s universities and defence companies.
"My government is investing in our defence industry’s future workforce with the creation of this program, to support the sector to build a pipeline of potential employees with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience," Premier Marshall said.
"The scholarships support students undertaking an industry placement with defence companies to apply the skills and expertise gained in the classroom on the job, and builds an awareness of the many career opportunities in the defence industry."
Premier Marshall added, "Raising up the next generation of skilled workers and leaders is critical to South Australia’s defence industry’s long-term success, and my government is committed to building a strong and capable workforce to take advantage of the jobs that flow from major defence projects."
Defence SA chief executive Richard Price welcomed the announcement, saying the program is a win-win for students and defence industry, and ensures the right range of skills are available within the workforce to service a vital sector.
"By supporting the placement of high-calibre students, defence companies can build their future workforce, enhance innovation and research capacity, and grow the quality of expertise of graduates emerging from our universities," Price said.
The program will be managed by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), a national employer organisation with strong membership in the defence, manufacturing and ICT sectors and administered by Defence SA, on behalf of the SA government. Ai Group will collaborate with South Australian universities to attract STEM students and place them within defence businesses.
Ai Group CEO Innes Willox the program brings higher education and the defence industry together to more effectively deliver work-integrated learning opportunities.
"It will mean better skills matching and greater partnering opportunities, which will enhance skills training and pathways to employment in industry. In short, it will help deliver much needed skills at the right time and in the right place," Willox added.
CEO of Babcock Australasia, David Ruff, said SA is rightly entrusted with delivering Defence’s flagship capability acquisitions, namely the Hunter frigate and Attack submarine programs, to be built in Adelaide.
"The success of producing these sovereign capabilities hinges upon the skills and quality of the workforce; Premier Marshall’s Defence Industry Scholarship Program is an astute initiative that will attract Australia’s brightest young intellects to the defence industry – thereby assuring the future of this nation-building enterprise," Ruff said.