The release of the Naval Shipbuilding Plan has offered more detail on the recently announced Naval Shipbuilding College, with a tender to identify a provider, or consortium of providers, to be released imminently.
The college, which was announced by Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne in March, will be established in Adelaide and, according to the plan, will "ensure a co-ordinated, national approach to workforce development and skilling across the naval shipbuilding enterprise".
The Department of Defence and the Department of Education and Training will undertake a tender process in the second quarter of this year, with the aim of identifying a provider, or group of providers, to implement the first phase of the Naval Shipbuilding College from early 2018.
Although there has been much speculation about the college competing with courses and programs already established around the country, like the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania, the government's plan maintains it will work cohesively with these organisations.
"The Naval Shipbuilding College will involve a strong partnership between existing education and training providers and industry to increase the capacity and quality of training offerings in key entry-level trades for naval shipbuilding," the plan said.
The current projected timeline for the college is as follows:
The first phase of the Naval Shipbuilding College, commencing in early 2018, will build capacity and annual throughput at existing education and training facilities around Australia, with the College headquarters at Osborne providing the central hub for managing implementation and collaboration between stakeholders, along with delivery of naval shipbuilding career awareness programs.
The focus will be on increasing key entry-level trade qualifications, reflecting the greatest demand expected in early years of the construction projects for trade qualified workers in structural and outfitting occupations.
Although key entry-level trade qualifications in Australia are typically provided through a traditional apprenticeship pathway, which involves an employer recruiting an apprentice and training them on the job, shipbuilders in South Australia are unlikely to recruit many apprentices before demand begins to ramp-up in the early 2020s, which raises the question of how apprentices in these trades will receive the on-the-job training required for their trade.
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The government hopes the new college will address this by seeking to arrange for suitable group training organisations across Australia to recruit naval shipbuilding apprentices and hire them out to their member employers for on-the-job training, potentially with naval shipbuilders, suppliers and sustainment providers both in Australia and internationally. The successful tenderer implementing the first phase of the college will also collaborate with government and education and training providers to trial alternative approaches to the traditional Australian apprenticeship scheme, such as up-front formal training, effectively delaying the job training component.
The second phase of the Naval Shipbuilding College will commence around 2020-21, increasing the capacity and throughput of students in key higher education qualifications (such as naval architecture and engineering) through universities. It will also develop and provide bridging programs for qualified workers from allied industries (such as automotive manufacturing and resources).
The third phase of the Naval Shipbuilding College will commence around 2022-23. This will see the development of a purpose-built training facility located at the Osborne Naval Shipyard. Following thorough consultation with government and industry partners, including selected designers and builders for the three build programs, the college will offer a range of naval shipbuilding education and training, arrange placements for students and graduates, and actively seek to recruit candidates from other geographic locations. This approach will ensure the numbers and types of skilled workers increase in line with industry demand.