Navantia Australia and JLB-Yaran recently signed a memorandum of understanding at Pacific 2019 with the intent of creating and building long-term careers for Indigenous talent in the defence industry – providing a mutually beneficial relationship.
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Australia’s defence industry has gone from strength to strength in a short period of time. However, global competition and world-leading capabilities require a shift in gear to support continued growth and competitiveness for Australian manufacturers, but what does this look like?
A core component of the Australian government’s $200 billion investment, recapitalisation and modernisation of the nation’s defence capability is the focus on developing a truly sovereign, sustainable and competitive domestic defence industry capability.
The introduction of the Defence Industrial Capability Plan in 2018 outlines the government’s long-term vision to “build and develop a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industry base that is better able to help meet defence capability requirements” in recognition of the rapidly evolving geostrategic environment and Australia’s changing role in the region.
The plan acknowledges that as Australia builds its defence capability, we must also grow our defence industrial capability. By 2028, Australia will require a larger, more capable and prepared defence industry that has the resident skills, expertise, technology, intellectual property and infrastructure to:
- Enable the conduct of ADF operations today;
- Support the acquisition, operation and sustainment of future defence capability; and
- Provide the national support base for Defence to meet current needs and to surge if Australia’s strategic circumstances require it.
This record level of investment in both the material capability of the Australian Defence Force and the sustained defence industry capability is providing important opportunities for Australian workers.
Supporting greater Indigenous participation in the booming defence industry is emerging as a growing focus for many primes and emerging Australian businesses as both seek to develop mutually beneficial relationship for all.
In this issue of On Point, we speak to Navantia Australia’s supply chain Australianisation lead Craig Williams, managing director at JLB-Yaran Brendan Dumbrell and business development manager at JLB-Yaran Hayden Surrao as they discuss building greater Indigenous participation in Australia’s defence industry.
Explain a little bit about what JLB Yaran does and how you got involved with Navantia Australia
Brendan: JLB Yaran was established in 2016 and was a joint venture between Australia’s largest, oldest and most reputable management systems consultancy, JLB. It merged with one of Australia’s longest operating independent Aboriginal businesses advisory firms, which is Yaran. So, smash the two together and you have JLB Yaran.
To explain the business in a couple of sentences, how I would describe what JLB Yaran is, we are a majority Indigenous-owned supply nation certified company, and what we do is we are an Indigenous professional services and management consultancy company that specialises in engineering, logistics and management solutions to defence government and defence industry. So, that’s what we do.
Our relationship with Navantia has been 12 months in development, and it really came to fruition at Pacific where we had the opportunity to sign our MoU, and it’s a result of much legwork, and I won’t steal my colleague’s thunder there, but we’re really excited that Navantia have brought us onboard because that [will] really provide us with a lot of opportunity in the future.
Craig: I’m the Australianisation lead working within that program, but we look at cross-platform commonalities as well. So, the DDGs and now the AORs are the first ones to do over here early next year.
Navantia Australia taking on the prime role for the sustainment of that. So, once you have the final fit-out done, we then take on that prime role of sustaining the IOR, and the IORs, we’re going to have two have them. One based at fleet base West, one based at fleet base East.
We have got a lot to do to create that supply chain and the support partners around us to be able to sustain and do the projects that we need to do, and we’re coming into a very busy period from a national perspective with the Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
It’s going to absorb a lot of our professional skills, our engineers. So, now is a perfect opportunity to work with JLB Yaran to start giving them the opportunities and some of the guidance to show them what we need as a company for those professional services.
How does Navantia go about supporting Indigenous workforce development in collaboration with SMEs like JLB Yaran?
Craig: Now, from the very top, and there’s a very big push to understand the Indigenous culture here in Australia, but also work with them to be able to create that sovereign capability.
My role, and for those out there who do know me, I’ve always been very vocal and passionate about Australian industry, but if we want to be and have that true sovereign capability, well let’s engage with the traditional landowners.
Let’s give them the opportunity and give them the skills and training so that they can actually run with it.
This is by no means a box-ticking exercise. This is, let’s truly develop an industry, and this is, we look at AIC, we look at even the Indigenous procurement plans. It’s all measured on just spending money and how much you spend.
From our perspective, it’s not how much you spend, it’s what you do with the money. What are we doing with the industry to develop them to be able to support these programs over the next 50 years?
Hayden: I think the intent of our program to create Indigenous opportunities in meaningful, long-term sustainable careers really hit the intent of what Navantia wanted to achieve with their reconciliation action plan and their future workforce, and the stars aligned.
We, over the last six months, we’ve been trading since 2016, but really we’re a new company that really started operating in 2018, and one of our charters was to create Indigenous employment opportunities.
Yes, we’re ex-military. Yes, we have strong networks into the defence and we use those networks to bring in contractors who we contract back to defence projects, which is fantastic, but really the charter and where we want it to go as a company was to build our workforce and build Indigenous opportunities and not just as consultants and contracted back to defence, but management opportunities at JLB Yaran.
What we found is when we started to look at opportunities to grow our workforce, it was really hard to get Indigenous candidates an opportunity into the defence industry.
We had to work really hard to come up with a program, which we have, which we’ve called the Indigenous Development and Employment Program, and that’s what we’ve presented to Navantia.
Basically what it is, it’s a program where we recruit Indigenous talent for an opportunity in a specific role that Navantia have identified, which would be great for a young, motivated, enthusiastic candidate to go into.
We build a three to five-year training continuum, which not only compliments their work experience that they’re getting with Navantia and clients such as Navantia, but complements that work experience with professional development, which potentially could lead into a bachelor, into a master’s, into a project manager material supply chain ILS position.
Or with other clients, it could turn them into a qualified welder that they could use for the next 20, 30, 40 years. It grows our workforce, it grows our capability, but it also gives Indigenous communities and Indigenous talent real long-term sustainable futures in the defence industry.
We built this program to increase Indigenous employment, but what we found is this program really complements what the industry and bigger companies have been asked by government to achieve.
You can listen to the full Defence Connect podcast with Navantia Australia’s supply chain Australianisation lead Craig Williams, managing director at JLB-Yaran Brendan Dumbrell, and business development manager at JLB-Yaran Hayden Surrao here.