Release of the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report and Action Plan

17 November 2023

On Friday 10 November, The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP, and Premier of South Australia, the Hon Peter Malinauskas MP released the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report and Action Plan, delivering a detailed strategy to grow and sustain South Australia’s defence industry workforce for the future.

The South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report is the result of close collaboration between the Commonwealth and South Australian governments, in consultation with defence industry, unions and the education providers who will build the skills of this workforce. 

The Report details 22 initiatives to further address workforce challenges and grow the South Australian defence industry workforce from 3,500 direct jobs to more than 8,500 in the 2040s.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles said this report helps to identify what is working, what more needs to be done, and where additional investment is needed to attract, skill and retain the workforce we need.

“This report presents a comprehensive and methodical plan to grow, build and sustain the South Australian defence industry workforce, which is critical to delivery of SSN-AUKUS, continuous naval shipbuilding and our other defence projects,” Mr Marles said. 

“Some initiatives will leverage and expand on existing programs, building on substantial work already underway across government, defence industry and education and VET sectors. Other initiatives are new to help address identified skills gaps.

“Collaborative and enduring partnerships between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments, defence industry, unions and education and training providers will underpin this critical workforce expansion and capability uplift over time.’’

Premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas said South Australia will play a leading role in building Australia’s industrial base. 

“Our critical national defence projects, including nuclear-powered submarines, will be delivered with the strength of a highly educated, highly trained workforce with the cutting edge skills and capabilities of the future,” Mr Malinauskas said. 

“The challenge to grow and sustain a highly skilled defence industry workforce cannot be understated, but neither can the opportunity."

These tangible and solutions-focussed initiatives will:

  • Engage an estimated 27,000 students and 1,500 teachers in at least 180 South Australian schools to support STEM education pathways for students.
  • Establish an industry capability pipeline of around 2,600 additional VET and university students through flexible training programs, technical colleges and STEM focused higher-education places.
  • Employ more apprentices, graduates and undergraduates through the Early Careers Program with more than 70 young Australians to join the program this year.
  • Engage and upskill experienced workers and industry leaders through mid-career transition programs, the Skills and Training Academy and Defence Industry Leadership Program
  • Improve workforce data and insights across industry and government
  • Promote defence industry workforce opportunities, and better connect jobs with potential candidates through a multi-tiered communications strategy.
  • Strengthen STEM evaluations through a consistent methodology and support industry to sponsor security clearances to engage highly skilled workers from our AUKUS partners.
  • Growing the defence industry workforce in South Australia requires a coordinated and collaborative approach.

Implementation of the package of initiatives will commence from 2024.

The full report is available on the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report website.