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Government of South Australia - Department of State Development

    South Australia's Defence Industry Workforce


    Building a skilled workforce to deliver sovereign Defence capabilities

    South Australian workers and businesses will play a critical role in our nation’s current and future national security.

    South Australia will be central to delivering some of the largest and most complex defence projects ever undertaken in Australia, including building Australian conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

    Ensuring that South Australia has a skilled workforce capable of delivering these ambitious projects demands a concerted effort spanning government, industry, unions, and educational institutions.

    Outlined in the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report, a comprehensive range of targeted initiatives have been endorsed to bolster South Australia's defence industry workforce capabilities.

    These initiatives are designed to yield both immediate and sustained impacts, catering to current workforce demands while laying the groundwork for future needs.

    Estimated workforce demand

    Over 11,000defence industry workers in the 2040's
    Estimated defence industry workforce in the 2040's including direct jobs and supply chain.
    4,000 to 5,500jobs to build nuclear-powered submarines
    The estimated number of jobs created to build the nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia.
    4,000additional construction workers
    The estimated number of additional workers for the design and build of the submarine construction yard at Osborne.

    Key Initiatives

    Primary and secondary

    Students’ interest and continued engagement in STEM studies across primary and secondary education is critical to creating and sustaining a longer-term pipeline for the future defence industry workforce.

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    Vocational education and training (VET)

    Defence industry requires many people with VET qualifications to fill job roles needed to deliver defence capability programs. More apprentices are needed to start now to meet the future skilled and experienced workforce targets.

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    Higher education

    Future defence projects and shipbuilding in South Australia rely on having enough higher education qualified graduates to fulfil roles across engineering, program management, supply chain, cyber and computing, engineering, space, and quantum physics.

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    Entry-level workforce

    Attracting entry-level talent is highly competitive. A range of strategies and supports must be in place to attract and retain talent from VET, higher education and beyond to the defence industry.

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    Mid-career workforce

    Supporting mid-career workers to transition to defence industry can make a more immediate contribution to filling the skills gap. Mid-career workers may need initial training to build on their existing skill sets and experience.

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    Supporting measures

    In addition to the key educational and training initiatives, there are a number of key drivers such as evidence-based decision making, strategic communications and outreach, skilled migration, and security clearances.

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    Defence SA GDLS 2 1482 788

    Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report

    The South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report, released in late 2023, is a joint commitment between the Australian and South Australian Governments, detailing targeted initiatives that directly support attracting, skilling and developing the defence industry workforce in South Australia.

    Implementation and governance

    Learn more about the establishment of the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Group.

    This function will support the coordination and implementation of the Report including delivery of the programs and work with industry, unions, and the education and training sector. It will also conduct regular reviews of key initiatives to ensure they continue to meet the defence industry workforce needs into the future.

    Register your details to keep up to date with the latest news and information related to South Australia's defence industry workforce and skills.