The government’s Naval Shipbuilding College, to be led by KBR and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), has been hailed as a key driver of developing Australia’s workforce of the future.
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews has called on parents and grandparents to encourage children to take note of the newly unveiled college in Adelaide and pursue the careers and opportunities within naval shipbuilding and associated industries.
"We know that we are facing an unprecedented skills shortage right across the nation and here we have an opportunity to showcase the great work that is happening here in South Australia that quite frankly is leading Australia in developing the skills that our nation needs for our future," Andrews told media at Osborne.
"So the NSC [National Shipbuilding College] is going to play an absolutely critical role in making sure that we are developing the expertise that is needed here ... to make sure that we are building the skilled workforce."
The government is anticipating by the mid-2020s the outfitting workforce – electricians, joiners and carpenters – will need to grow by over 1,400 people, while the structural workforce – boilermakers, structural workers and steelworkers – will need to grow by more than 1,000 people and management staff by over 300.
"More than 25,000 personnel will be needed directly or indirectly for the government’s $90 billion commitment to a continuous shipbuilding program," Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said.
"The naval shipbuilding workforce in Australia is likely to grow to around 5,200 workers by the mid‑2020s, across a range of diverse job roles."
The new college, to be established by KBR and HII, will be industry-driven to meet both the immediate and future skilled workforce requirements necessary to successfully deliver the planned $90 billion naval shipbuilding program.
The joint venture between KBR and HII, known as the Naval Shipbuilding Institute (NSI), will work with shipbuilders to understand their workforce requirements throughout the different stages of project construction and sustainment, while leveraging a national network of education and training providers to deliver the specific skills required.
KBR and HII have already sought expertise from Australian industry, including the Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium (DIESC), which will play a key role in the new college.
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The DIESC, which is made up of the Defence Teaming Centre, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, Flinders University, RMIT University, Edith Cowan University, TAFE SA, South Metropolitan TAFE and the Indigenous Defence Consortium, said it is encouraged by NSI's engagement with industry.
"We are pleased to see that KBR and HII have sought Australian expertise from the DIESC," said DIESC spokesperson and Defence Teaming Centre CEO Margot Forster. "This is essential to ensure we have a strong and sovereign education platform from which to develop shipbuilding careers for many generations to come.
"The college will become a critical interface between naval industry and education. The approval by the Commonwealth government to invest $90 billion into new naval fleets and submarines will see a huge requirement for specialised skilled personnel in the future. The development of a Naval Shipbuilding College is a significant step towards filling a future need in the defence industry’s rapidly changing and expanding workforce."