STEM shortage presents roadblock to Defence jobs

July 23, 2018

A STEM-enabled workforce needs to expand to support the production and maintenance of submarines, ships, armoured vehicles and Defence infrastructure.

The Australian Government is channelling $200 billion into Defence jobs and capability over the coming decade to recapitalise the Australian Defence Force.

Accompanying this is the development of the ‘Workforce Behind the Defence Force’ (WBDF) campaign – the roughly 3,000 plus SMEs and 25,000 employees that constitute Defence industry in Australia.

Over the next decade, this STEM-enabled workforce will need to expand substantially to support the production and maintenance of submarines, ships, armoured vehicles and Defence infrastructure; as well as the protection of information assets and capabilities through intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance.

But a nationwide STEM skills shortage, exacerbated by ‘brain drain’ to overseas opportunities and Australia’s falling rank on the global talent competitiveness index, are posing significant roadblocks to the government’s investment plans.

Attracting, nurturing and retaining talent is critical to the fulfilment of the Integrated Investment Program (IIP); but all the measures indicate that further interventions are needed to bolster the Defence community to meet the challenge in front of it.

In recognition of this, the Department of Defence is developing a long- term Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy – a major national endeavour to support the development of a skilled workforce and help meet future capability requirements.

As part of the strategy the Department is undertaking a Defence Industry Skilling Survey, currently open to public contributions.
The survey – which has already seen a tremendous uptake – will play a critical role in informing the Strategy and helping the Department and government better understand industry’s HR challenges.

Dr. Sheridan Kearnan, First Assistant Secretary Defence Industry Policy, Strategic Policy & Intelligence Group at the Department of Defence is behind the initiative and will be speaking at the ADM STEM in Defence Summit – to be held 21 August 2018 in Canberra.

Addressing an audience of Defence, Education and Industry leaders, she will share details of the survey including current progress and a discussion on how its results may affect all relevant stakeholders.

Find more information about the STEM in Defence conference here.

First published by Informa, 2018

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