Western Australia is poised to take on a bigger slice of the lucrative naval shipbuilding pie - committing to train 400 additional apprentices and trainees over three years to meet future industry demand.
Announcing the new Defence Industry Skills Unit with Industry and Enterprise Minister Francis Logan today, Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan said the initiative would help position WA as the logical choice for future defence contracts.
Mr McGowan said the industry currently employed about 3,000 people directly and 20,000 indirectly in WA and generated $1.1billion for the local economy.
“The Commonwealth Government’s 10-year $60billion Defence Capability Plan has the potential to generate an additional $5billion for the WA economy and create 1,500 more jobs,” he said.
“Within the next three years, we will be needing an additional 627 tradespersons and professional workers - project managers, mechanical engineers, boilermakers, welders, mechanical fitters, draftspersons, marine electronics and machinists.
“The Carpenter Government is committed to training the additional 400 apprentices and trainees to meet the needs of industry. The additional 227 professional workers will be sourced through the university sector.
“The new defence skills unit will work closely with industry to identify and provide the training necessary for WA to have an adequate supply of skilled defence workers.”
The establishment of the unit was a key recommendation of the 2006 Ministerial Task Force on Defence Skilling, which looked at how WA could improve skills training for the industry.
Mr Logan said the unit and additional training places would mean WA was backing up its extensive capital infrastructure in naval shipbuilding with relevant human infrastructure.
“The Carpenter Government has already committed to spending $174million to expand the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) and enhance the State’s status as the nation’s premier naval shipbuilder,” he said.
“This new skills unit will ensure the long-term future of WA’s strong shipbuilding industry and help confirm the AMC’s status as the logical choice for the integration and consolidation site for the $2billion amphibious naval vessel contract.”
Mr McGowan said the taskforce had also recommended the establishment of a Defence Industry Skills Advisory Board to inform and advise the training and education sector on the industry’s skill requirements.
Peel MLA Paul Papalia had been chosen as the inaugural chair of the board, which would begin work in May.
“Mr Papalia, a former senior naval officer with extensive experience in the defence force, will select the other board members over the coming weeks,” the Minister said.
“His intimate knowledge of the defence force makes him an ideal choice for this role.”
Mr McGowan said the unit would also look at workforce demands beyond the next three years, by developing pathways from schools to employment with companies involved in marine and defence construction and maintenance contracts.
“About eight schools are involved in pilot programs which encourage school leavers to find jobs in the defence industry and in some cases to study engineering at university,” he said.
“These initiatives are part of the Carpenter Government’s commitment to transform WA’s training system into a more flexible, relevant and efficient system.
“The changes will make the training system more capable of responding quickly to the diverse needs and challenges of our continued economic growth and beyond the boom.”
Graham Priestnall, the chairman of the Australian Industry and Defence Network, WA, welcomed the creation of the Defence Industry Skills Unit.
“As the defence industry grows in maturity, it is important that we work closely with the education and training sector to train the skilled people we will need,” Mr Priestnall said.
Office of the Minister for Education and Training - 9222 9111
Office of the Minister for Industry and Enterprise - 9222 8950