State and Federal governments say they are set to engage an estimated 27,000 students and 1,500 teachers across at least 180 South Australian schools to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) education pathways for students. This strategic move aims to ensure essential support for the delivery of defence projects associated with AUKUS.
This initiative is part of a comprehensive plan unveiled today by Federal Defence Minister Richard Marles and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas. Outlining 22 initiatives, the plan is specifically crafted to address South Australia’s workforce challenges and propel the growth of SA’s defence industry workforce from 3,500 direct jobs to over 8,500 by the 2040s.
Expected to commence in 2024, the plan underlines the critical importance of fostering the sovereign capability to deliver some of the nation’s most intricate defence projects. This includes Australia’s conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines, and continuous naval shipbuilding. These capabilities can only be realised through the strength of a highly educated and well-trained workforce.
Premier Peter Malinauskas emphasised the challenge of growing and sustaining a highly skilled defence industry workforce. He underscored the pivotal opportunity, stating, “South Australia will play a leading role in building Australia’s industrial base by constructing the most complex machines in the world.”
The South Australian Business Chamber Chief Executive Andrew Kay said that any measure to further enhance the skills of South Australians is an investment in future economies. He highlighted the need for a cohesive strategy, given a number of the state’s key projects will be competing with each other for skilled tradespeople.
Andrew noted that there were immediate challenges that need to be addressed., “It’s currently a struggle to secure an electrician or a chippy for minor residential work in SA, let alone build a shipyard.”
Anticipating forthcoming announcements from the Federal Government regarding Australia’s Migration Strategy, Andrew said, “We hope it will provide greater clarity and certainty on how we can better facilitate the movement of skilled workers to move to our state.”
The South Australian Business Chamber will meet with the government to discuss how the entire business community can benefit from this investment in skills and the practical details of the rollout. We are looking forward to further collaboration with education providers and industries to address our state’s critical skills shortage.