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New defence industry taskforce established for key SA projects

New defence industry taskforce established for key SA projects

The Commonwealth government is set to launch a new taskforce in collaboration with the South Australian government, aimed at bolstering the local defence industry workforce.

The Commonwealth government is set to launch a new taskforce in collaboration with the South Australian government, aimed at bolstering the local defence industry workforce.

Ensuring key defence projects based in South Australia have a highly skilled workforce will be the focus of a new joint Commonwealth and state government taskforce.

According to current modelling, South Australia’s shipyard workforce could grow from 2,800 to 5,000 by 2027 and to 9,000 by 2037.

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The SA Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Taskforce is expected to facilitate collaboration between stakeholders from government, unions, universities, training providers, business and industry.

This aims to inform recommendations on key defence industry workforce and skilling issues in South Australia, including: 

  • Aligning state and Commonwealth strategies to develop the defence industry workforce.
  • Growing the pipeline of STEM qualified graduates.
  • Ensuring investment in education and training for the defence industry is targeted to address priority needs, including new models of training.
  • Transitioning skilled workers from other sectors into the defence industry.
  • Increasing the participation of women and Indigenous Australians in STEM careers and the defence industry.
  • Increasing awareness and access to education and training pathways into defence industry careers, with a focus on under-represented cohorts.
  • Ensuring school leavers are aware of defence industry opportunities and get the skills they need for defence industry jobs.

The taskforce, to be co-chaired by state and Commonwealth officials, is expected to draw from existing government resources.

Defence projects tipped to be supported by the initiative include the Hunter Class frigate program, and the Life of Type Extension of the Collins Class submarines.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the initiative forms part of a broader push to ensure the delivery of key defence capabilities.

“We need to act now if Australia is to have the skills and workforce needed to build our defence capability,” he said.

“This joint taskforce is focused on growing and skilling the workforce in South Australia that will be so essential to delivering these critical defence projects.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas described the establishment of the taskforce as a “significant step forward” for the state.

“Too often, governments focus on the short term. This joint taskforce is all about ensuring our state is well prepared to seize the long-term opportunities of multiple defence projects which will span generations,” he said.

“We have before us an opportunity to secure thousands of well-paid, highly skilled jobs in South Australia for years and decades to come.”

[Related: Defence spruiks NAVIGATE program to boost STEM workforce ]

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