Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Support

The Australian Government is investing $270 billion in Australia's defence capability to ensure Australia remains secure, well into the future.

This investment is expected to deliver significant opportunities for Australian industry and generate an increasing demand for a highly skilled and STEM specialised workforce.

This includes an increase in demand for Australian workers with trade, technical and science and technology skills to build and maintain fleets of new ships, submarines, armored vehicles, infrastructure and facilities, and contribute to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber and other electronic and information-based capabilities. Australian design, construction, integration, sustainment, services and support capabilities will all be critical.

There are thousands of small-to-medium enterprises employing many more Australians across the country that aren't in the Australian Defence Force, but work to support and strengthen it. There will be significant opportunities for Australian workers and businesses already supporting Defence and those working in other industries to be part of our defence industry.

Defence Industry Skilling and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Strategy

The Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy (PDF-2.5MB) details how the Government will help Australian defence industry to meet their workforce skills requirements over the coming decade. It is a key part of the Government’s long-term vision to build and develop a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industrial base that is able to meet defence capability requirements.

The Strategy focusses on four key areas:

  • Engage: Improving access to information about defence industry career opportunities and increasing support for the national effort to improve the take up of STEM studies and careers.
  • Attract: Providing support to defence industry businesses to grow and attract a national defence industry workforce.
  • Train and Retain: Encourage investment in skills and provide support to defence industry businesses to train and sustain a national defence industry workforce.
  • Collaborate: Facilitate stakeholder collaboration and coordination, to improve longer-term sectoral understanding to better predict and address future workforce needs and to enable quicker responses to defence industry workforce needs from key stakeholders.

The strategy is aligned with the Naval Shipbuilding Plan which outlines the Australian Government’s vision for the Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and the significant investment required in coming decades. The strategy is also aligned with the Naval Shipbuilding College initiative.

Download a snapshot of the Strategy (PDF-275KB).

Naval Shipbuilding College

The Government’s Naval Shipbuilding College (College) is playing a key role in developing a coordinated, national approach to workforce development and skilling for the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise (Enterprise). The College is supporting industry to ensure that appropriately skilled and experienced workers are available when required, to meet Enterprise workforce requirements.

Working closely with the Australian Government and industry, the College continues to build a maturing picture of the anticipated shipbuilding workforce demand and supply over the next decade and beyond.

The College’s Workforce Register enables Australians who are interested in long-term shipbuilding career opportunities to express their interest and receive guidance through the skilling and employment process.

The College operates a hub-and-spoke model that enables students to undertake courses through College-endorsed education and training providers across Australia. The provider network is supporting the future workforce to become employment-ready for a career in naval shipbuilding.

For workers who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, the College also helps candidates to identify what specialist or bridging training is required to transition into a new career in shipbuilding.

For further information, or if you are interested in learning how you may be involved in naval shipbuilding, as a prospective student, a worker or a potential industry, education or training partner, please register your interest through the Naval Shipbuilding College website

Defence Industry Skills Support

Defence supports a number of initiatives designed to increase student knowledge of the defence industry sector; clarify work and career pathways into the defence industry sector; help expand the pool of skilled workers from which defence industry is able to recruit; and help support specific skills within defence industry capability. Currently funded initiatives include:

  • The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grant Program was launched in September 2020. SADI grants help defence industry Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Industry Associations upskill and train existing defence industry employees in trade, technical and professional skill sets. The grants also help Defence SMEs to establish human resources practices and training plans that will help build lifelong learning activities into their business -supporting workforce development, training needs and retention. SADI is funded at $17 million over FY2020-21.
  • The Defence Industry Internship Program (DIIP) links 3rd and 4th year engineering students with defence sector SMEs by sponsoring the industry placement component of their studies. The program specifically targets engineering streams considered by defence industry to be in short or critical supply, and aims to give student engineers a better understanding of the critical work performed by our defence SMEs. In FY2020-21 Defence is offering 100 internship placements under the DIIP.
  • The School Pathways Program (SPP) aims to inform young Australians about the varied pathways and career opportunities within the defence industry sector. The Program facilitates an understanding of defence industry; provides access to defence industry career experiences; provides access to mentoring and networking opportunities and encourages student participation in STEM activities and/or subjects that will lead to an increase in the pool of young people with the knowledge and skills to purse defence industry careers. This program is funded at $2.6 million over FY2020-21.

The National Defence Industry Skills Office (NDISO) acts as a single point of contact within the Department of Defence for industry skilling and STEM-related engagement and leadership. Email the National Defence Industry Skills Office

Grant recipients

The Commonwealth grants guidelines require Defence to publish information on its individual grants for reasons of transparency and public accountability. Details of grant recipients will be published no later than 21 working days on the GrantConnect website after the funding agreement takes effect. This information will be retained on the website for at least two financial years.

Reporting for grants is now hosted on the Department of Finance's GrantConnect website.

The Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) supports Australian businesses working or seeking work in the defence industry. The CDIC is a key defence industry policy initiative aimed at strengthening the capability and capacity of Australian businesses to meet Defence’s requirements through support for industry development, critical skilling and export programs. The CDIC also facilitates access to Defence's innovation programs for small and medium businesses, including the Defence Innovation Hub and the Next Generation Technologies Fund.

Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) Grants are available through the CDIC. An initiative of the 2019 Defence Skilling and STEM Strategy, SADI Grants support businesses servicing the defence sector with upskilling and training opportunities to build skills capacity and human resources programs, and enhance their capability to meet current or future Defence needs.