New Consortium to build a defence-ready workforce

Friday, 24 March 2017

In a trail-blazing agreement, South Australia’s three public universities, TAFE SA and the leading defence industry association are collaborating to deliver a defence-ready, and especially maritime-ready, workforce with skills in engineering, information and computer technology, and project management.

Welcoming the announcement by the Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne of the establishment of a Maritime Naval College in South Australia, the education institutions and main defence industry organisation in South Australia have formed the Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium.

The Consortium looks forward to the tender and will consider bidding for the College, in partnership with organisations around Australia.

The Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium is an initiative of the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, the University of South Australia, TAFE SA and the Defence Teaming Centre, working closely with defence industry companies large and small.

The new Consortium will work closely with multinational, national and local defence companies to ensure Australian jobs are at the forefront in defence projects worth $195 billion over the next 20 years, including the Australian Government’s $89 billion investment in naval ships and submarines.

Acting Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, Professor Mike Brooks, says the new consortium is an excellent model for industry/education collaboration.

“This model encourages a direct influence from industry on both higher education and vocational education to ensure the right range of skills are available within the workforce to service a vital sector for Australia,” Prof Brooks says.

CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre, Margot Forster says the unprecedented decision to establish a continuous build program for surface ships and submarines in South Australia provides a unique opportunity for industry, government, education and training providers to work together to focus on provision of a trained, upskilled and reskilled workforce.

“The Consortium’s aims are threefold: to inspire young people to choose the maritime defence sector as a viable career path; to ensure that education is closely tied to the skills needs of defence industry; and to support existing workers to retrain and upskill so they can take advantage of emerging defence-related opportunities,” Forster says.

“This approach will ensure education and skills are driving South Australia’s, and the nation’s economic prosperity.”

UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd says the initiative positions South Australia strongly to play its part in securing the Nation’s future in this fast-growing industry.

“It demonstrates that higher education providers are eager and able to collaborate not only between themselves, but also with the vocational sector and, most importantly, with industry to meet critical skills challenges such as those posed by the Commonwealth’s ambitious naval and other defence projects,” Prof Lloyd says.

Based in South Australia, the Consortium founding members have formed national and international affiliations with education and skills institutions offering relevant world-leading expertise, including University College London, the University of Tasmania, North Carolina State University and the GEMA group of universities that works closely with naval shipbuilder DCNS in France.

Flinders University Vice Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling, says the new Consortium represents a deep commitment to the defence industry in South Australia.

“This is an important collaboration underpinned by the four educational institutions in partnership with the Defence Teaming Centre that will harness the benefits of Australia’s investment in this sector and protect the nation’s future security,” Prof Stirling says.

The initiative complements the Australian Government’s investment in 1,200 new scholarships for South Australia announced recently by the Minister for Education.

Acting Chief Executive, TAFE SA Simon Porter says Vocational education has a vital role to play in building the capacity and ability of the South Australian workforce.

“TAFE SA looks forward to supporting South Australians to develop the practical skills needed to take advantage of the new pathways and career options created as a result of this consortium, while continuing to support the growth of the Australian defence industry,” he says.

The Consortium aims to:

• Support the systematic analysis of defence and especially maritime industries’ workforce education and skills requirements to align them with the education and training provision provided by the tertiary educational sector.

• Mobilise the combined resources of the education providers to respond rapidly to identified skill gaps to support Australian industry in maximising the potential benefit of defence projects, including the provision of existing worker reskilling/upskilling to meet identified needs.

• Improve integration of the education continuum through school, VET and higher education.

• Promote defence industries as a career by providing clear educational and skills pathways for those who have the aptitudes and motivation to work in the defence sector.


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