Australia — Defence skills plan to meet the challenges ahead

Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced he has asked Skills Aus­tralia to work with Defence and the Defence indus­try to devel­op a plan to ensure Aus­tralian indus­try has the skills to meet the needs of the Aus­tralian Defence Force over the next decade and beyond.

Mr Clare made the announce­ment at the 7 th Annu­al Defence Skilling Sum­mit in Bris­bane.

Over the next 15 years the Aus­tralian Defence Force will replace or upgrade up to 85 per cent of its equip­ment.

This is a big chal­lenge. It is impor­tant we get it right. A key part of this is mak­ing sure we have the skills we need to do the job,” Mr Clare said.

In the next decade we will spend around $150 bil­lion on Defence equip­ment. A lot of that will be spent here in Aus­tralia.

The amount of Defence work done in Aus­tralia is expect­ed to grow from $5.5 bil­lion per annum now to $7.5 bil­lion per annum over the next 10 years (in today’s dol­lars).

To do this work well, we will have to build up the skills of Aus­tralian indus­try,” Mr Clare said.

The biggest moun­tain we will have to climb is the Future Sub­ma­rine project – poten­tial­ly the biggest and most com­plex Defence project ever.

It will involve hun­dreds of com­pa­nies and thou­sands of work­ers – and a lot of skills that cur­rent­ly do not exist in suf­fi­cient num­bers in Aus­tralia.”

The Min­is­ter has asked Skills Aus­tralia to work with Defence and the Defence indus­try to map out the range and breadth of skills we will need and the best way to build them.

Skills Aus­tralia will report by mid next year.

This will build on the work cur­rent­ly under­way to boost skills in Defence and the Defence indus­try.

Skilling Australia’s Defence Indus­try (SADI)

This includes the Skilling Australia’s Defence Indus­try Pro­gram which will invest $138 mil­lion over a decade to boost skills and improve train­ing in the Defence indus­try.

Since 2005 the pro­gram has fund­ed more than 24,000 train­ing places, includ­ing more than 2,200 appren­tices.

Last week, Mr Clare announced the allo­ca­tion of almost $14 mil­lion to 109 com­pa­nies for more than 4,000 train­ing places to boost the skills of the Defence indus­try work­force this finan­cial year.

This includes up to $1.4 mil­lion to sup­port approx­i­mate­ly 250 appren­tices in trades like aero­space skills, engi­neer­ing fab­ri­ca­tion and elec­tro tech­nol­o­gy.

Pri­or­i­ty Indus­try Capa­bil­i­ty Inno­va­tion Pro­gram (PICs)

At the Sum­mit Mr Clare also announced the first $9.2 mil­lion in fund­ing for the Pri­or­i­ty Indus­try Capa­bil­i­ty Inno­va­tion Pro­gram.

This is a $45 mil­lion pro­gram to help ensure we build and sus­tain Australia’s Pri­or­i­ty Indus­try Capa­bil­i­ties (PICs).

Appli­ca­tions for the $9.2 mil­lion avail­able this year will open on 24 Octo­ber and close on 6 Jan­u­ary 2012. Pro­gram guide­lines are now avail­able at

Com­pa­nies can apply for up to $4 mil­lion in matched fund­ing for inno­v­a­tive projects that will improve or enhance a Pri­or­i­ty Indus­try Capa­bil­i­ty (PIC).

This fund­ing deliv­ers on a com­mit­ment made in the 2010 Defence Indus­try state­ment.

The pro­gram will be over­seen by the Defence Inno­va­tion and Indus­try Board.

Recip­i­ents of the first $9.2 mil­lion will be announced in the first quar­ter of next year.

Pri­or­i­ty Indus­try Capa­bil­i­ty Health Checks

Mr Clare also released the results of the first two Pri­or­i­ty Indus­try Capa­bil­i­ty health checks at the Sum­mit – the Ship Dry Dock­ing and Com­mon User Facil­i­ties PIC and the Infantry Weapons PIC.

In Feb­ru­ary this year the Min­is­ter instruct­ed Defence to con­duct a health check of all PICs to pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of the abil­i­ty of these sec­tors to meet the needs of the Aus­tralian Defence Force. 

The results of the first two health checks are pos­i­tive.

The Infantry Weapons report indi­cates that base-lev­el sup­port can be under­tak­en by a num­ber of com­pa­nies in Aus­tralia and the fac­to­ry rebuild capa­bil­i­ty is deliv­er­ing a good ser­vice to Defence.

The Ship Dry Dock­ing report indi­cates that Cap­tain Cook Grav­ing Dock in Syd­ney has spare capac­i­ty and that Aus­tralia has enough suit­able docks to meet naval needs.

Copies of these reports are avail­able on the DMO web­site:

Health checks into the oth­er PICs are still under­way and are expect­ed to be released lat­er this year and ear­ly next year.

Defence Engi­neer­ing Intern­ship Pro­gram

Mr Clare also announced the Defence Engi­neer­ing Intern­ship Pro­gram which will begin in 2012.

The aim of the pro­gram is to encour­age out­stand­ing engi­neer­ing stu­dents to take up a career in the Defence indus­try after they grad­u­ate.

This $1.4 mil­lion pro­gram will allow third year engi­neer­ing stu­dents to com­plete a twelve week Defence indus­try place­ment in a small to medi­um sized com­pa­ny as part of the prac­ti­cal com­po­nent of their stud­ies.

Stu­dents will be paid $700 per week while work­ing in the pro­gram, while the com­pa­ny that hosts them will receive $500 per week.

Appli­ca­tions for the pro­gram will open in time for the start of the 2012 aca­d­e­m­ic year, with between 20 and 25 posi­tions on offer each year.

Media con­tact:
Kore­na Flana­gan – 02 6277 7620

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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