New government investment to deliver skills needed for AUKUS submarine program

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Image credit: Department of Defence

The Albanese Government has announced approximately $150 million in funding to support the delivery of skills and workforce required in Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program through AUKUS. 

As part of the AUKUS agreement, Australia plans will acquire and manufacture nuclear-powered submarines, which will create around 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years across the industry, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Public Service. 

The investment will establish the AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy to co-design a Skills and Training Academy to deliver tailored education, training, and skilling for the submarine and naval shipbuilding workforce in South Australia. 

The nuclear-powered submarine program is expected to be the most transformative industrial endeavour in Australia, according to Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy

The Australian government recently announced an AUKUS skills and training package, which includes a four-year $128.5 million funding to establish an additional 4,000 university places that will focus on STEM disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science, naval architecture, computer science, as well as mechanical, electrical, chemical, and nuclear engineering. 

“These extra 4,000 places are in addition to the existing 20,000 more Commonwealth Supported Places already funded by the Australian Government to address skills shortages in areas of national priority,” said Minister for Education Jason Clare. 

The funding will also allow the Department of Education to access international engagement advice and research aimed at backing the nuclear-powered submarine program. 

A total of $3.9 million has also been allocated to establish the skills task force within the Department of Employment Workplace Relations. 

“This task force will play a vital role in advising how the vocational skills and training sector can be geared up to support this new workforce,” said Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor. “It’s important we work in lock-step with industry, tertiary education sector leaders, unions, State and Territory Governments to plan and build the skilled workforce needed for Australia’s future.”

Meanwhile, $11.4 million will go towards extending the Defence Industry Pathways Program within the Western Australia shipbuilding industry. 

“Young Australians starting training now have a bright future ahead of them with secure high skilled, well-paid jobs that will make an important contribution to Australia’s defence industry and our national security,” Minister Conroy said.