Release type: Joint Media Release


Skilling Australia’s shipbuilding workforce


The Hon Christopher Pyne MP
Minister for Defence Industry
Leader of the House
Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham
Minister for Education and Training
Manager of Government Business in the Senate

The Turnbull Government will bring together industry experts, employers and employees to help guide the content and qualifications of Australia’s vocational education and training courses to ensure they’re ready for the booming demands of the naval shipbuilding industry.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said an Industry Reference Committee (IRC) would be established by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) to assess courses training people with skills for the naval shipbuilding industry and recommend ways to enhance those qualifications.

“This is about ensuring our world-leading vocational education and training courses are as up-to-date as possible to shore up the training needs for the thousands of new jobs set to flow from the Turnbull Government’s $90 billion naval shipbuilding plan,” Minister Birmingham said.

“It will complement the hub-and-spoke training arrangements of the Naval Shipbuilding College the Turnbull Government is establishing, as well as the Australian Maritime College.

“We want to ensure Australians have the best ‘know how’ to take advantage of the massive jobs boost coming from the Turnbull Government’s naval shipbuilding investment.”

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said Australia has a world-leading workforce and the Turnbull Government would take every possible step to ensure local skills were being supported to deliver the vessels and maintain them into the future.

“We’re expecting about 5,200 new shipbuilding jobs and more than double that number in sustainment by the mid- 2020s and that will mean huge demand for training and upskilling as we deliver on the 12 new submarines, nine future frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels.

“Ensuring we’re educating and up-skilling our workforce to directly meet those needs is one of the biggest steps we can take towards the Naval Shipbuilding Plan," Minister Pyne said.

“The Plan’s success depends on a rapid expansion and upskilling of the naval shipbuilding workforce in the design, construction and sustainment of this fleet of new vessels. It’s the specialised and skilled workforce that is critical to the delivery and sustainment of the Royal Australian Navy’s future submarines, frigates and offshore patrol vessels.”

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews said the new IRC would complement, and work with, the recently announced Naval Shipbuilding College and provide enormous opportunities for the VET sector, including examining new approaches to career structuring and identifying opportunities for collaboration across VET, higher education and industry sectors.

“There is strong demand within the naval shipbuilding industry for workers in traditional trades, as well as workers with higher technical skills attained through a mix of vocational and higher education studies,” Minister Andrews said.

“Delivering a curriculum which meets the needs of industry and employers is essential to ensure that Australian workers have the skills that will serve them well throughout a long career in shipbuilding and sustainment.”

AISC Chair, and former naval officer, Professor John Pollaers said the new IRC was an example of how an industry-led training system was delivering real benefits for students, businesses and the economy.

“By listening closely to the needs of employers, employees and peak groups, IRCs are ensuring vocational education gives graduates the future-focussed skills they need to take advantage of new jobs in dynamic areas like the shipbuilding industry,” Professor Pollaers said.

“The Shipbuilding IRC will ensure students have the skills and knowledge that will be needed to take up new and emerging job opportunities. The IRC, with its close links across the sector, will also provide advice to government on future skills needs and workforce trends, ensuring Australia delivers on this important project.”

The Shipbuilding IRC structure and membership is open for public comment. Visit the AISC website for more information.