Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


Defence taskforce an opportunity to develop world-beating shipbuilding precinct

AUGUST 31, 2022 – The Australian Shipbuilding Federation of Unions welcomes the news that South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas will move to establish a joint State and Commonwealth Defence Jobs and Skills Taskforce.

Once the Taskforce is established, it should consider the ASFU’s recommendation that the federal government should establish a specialist National Workforce Development and Industry Capability Precinct. This precinct would be designed to facilitate improved technology transfer, military-to-civilian conversion, and skills and workforce development benefits from various naval shipbuilding projects.

Establishing the Precinct will build capability throughout South Australia’s and Australia’s heavy engineering sectors and underpin a more evidence-based approach to the analysis of workforce development initiatives.

Within the right policy framework, the manufacture of the next generation of naval assets provides a major opportunity for skills and workforce development and industry capability building that have not been achieved with previous major defence acquisitions.

The existing Naval Shipbuilding College should be redeveloped and re-purposed into a Heavy Engineering Skills Analysis, Workforce Planning & Development Centre charged with analysing the workforce development and workforce planning needs of the projects and the supply chains that will service the projects.

The result would be state-of-the-art facilities capable of designing and integrating properly designed, nationally recognised qualifications, skills pathways and related training products to build the skilled heavy engineering trade, technical and engineering workers the projects and their supply chains will require.

A tripartite governance structure focusing on a whole-of-precinct approach to participation would provide the best framework to maximise local participation in heavy engineering, defence and infrastructure projects and to build future capability.

ASFU South Australia convenor Peter Bauer said:

“Premier Malinauskas’ announcement today is very welcome. South Australian shipbuilding workers have a proud history of supplying Australia’s defence needs, and this will help ensure that legacy continues.

“By committing to establishing a National Workforce Development and Industry Capability Precinct, the South Australian and federal governments would help create thousands of well-paid, secure, long-term jobs for the next generation of Adelaide manufacturing workers, and ensure they have the training and skills they need to sustain and grow not just Australian shipbuilding, but the entire manufacturing sector.

“We’re very keen to work with Premier Malinauskas and the federal government to make the Precinct a reality.”

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