Saab Australia will invest up to $40 million to establish a Defence Institute in partnership with the University of South Australia (UniSA) to prepare South Australian workers for an expected increase in defence jobs.
The Institute will educate and train the workforce required to deliver future defence industry projects during the next 20 to 30 years. Students will learn technological skills, matched with practical experience on cutting-edge defence technology at Saab.
The partnership will also see UniSA researchers and Saab engineers conduct joint research on new technology.
The Saab/UniSA Defence Institute will be a purpose-built wing of Saab's headquarters at Mawson Lakes, in close proximity to UniSA's Mawson Lakes campus which hosts the university's Schools of Engineering, Information Technology and Mathematics and its Future Industries Institute.
Managing director of Saab Australia, Dean Rosenfield said the significant defence industry projects planned for the upcoming decades in Australia will require a new level of people with specialist skills in systems engineering.
"It is forecast that the need for additional personnel with the right education and training will be in excess of 5,000 and about 20 per cent of those will need to be university qualified,” Rosenfield said.
"This partnership ensures academia is in the heart of industry. Students will learn the technological skills, the industry demands and through the practical experience element, know how to deliver projects effectively.
"We have had a long and productive association with UniSA. This new partnership will give South Australia and Saab the edge in building defence industry capacity, delivering world-class solutions for future key projects."
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the new Institute will address not only Saab skills and education needs, but also provide opportunities for smaller companies in the defence supply chain, giving them access to new generations of well-prepared graduates and the chance to up-skill existing staff.
"This initiative is a fine example of how universities and industry can work together to deliver future growth for South Australia," Professor Lloyd said.
"Students studying engineering, IT and a variety of other STEM-based degree programs will have the opportunity to undertake real world projects at Saab or other companies in the supply chain and high performing students will be offered longer internships.
"We will be co-creating curriculum and teaching materials with Saab, ensuring they reflect current industry requirements and, at the postgraduate level, we will work with Saab to redevelop our Masters in Military Systems Integration to maintain the deep relevance of the program.
"In addition, the partnership will provide opportunities for joint research work, opening up new areas for PhD research, supporting additional innovation."
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne welcomed the establishment of the new academic institution, saying it would help meet future defence project needs.
"The Defence Institute will develop a source of sustainable Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates by immersing them in real world problems and situations to bring academia into the heart of industry," Minister Pyne said.
"Significant Defence projects, such as the replacements for the Collins Class Submarines that will be delivered in the coming years, necessitate an increase in skilled people, especially in STEM subjects. This will also build on our indigenous defence capability and provide a developing workforce for future export contracts.
"The institute will also provide opportunities for smaller companies in the defence supply chain to participate in industry-based activities, contribute to science projects and access a pool of well-prepared staff to up-skill their own."
The Minister also said the Department of Defence welcomed the opportunity to work with the new Defence Institute to optimise investment in Defence research and innovation and maximise the complementary value of our respective STEM student development programs.
The announcement of the institute comes only a few weeks after Minister Pyne unveiled plans to create the Australian Maritime Technical College which will train thousands of skilled workers for work on Australia's future shipbuilding investment.
"By the late 2020s, the naval shipbuilding industry will expand to more than 5,200 employees in construction in South Australia, and more than double this in sustainment and through the supply chain across the country," said Minister Pyne.
Construction of offshore patrol vessels is due to begin at Osborne in 2018, before the project is shifted to Western Australia in 2020, making way for work to begin on the Future Frigate Program.