In March 2017 then Defence Industry Minister Chris Pyne announced a “maritime technical college” “ to ensure that Australia’s future shipbuilding projects have the skills available when they are required.” But by August last, the college’s role had become to identify what skills will be needed and work with the providers which teach them (CMM August 23 2018). And now a discussion paper on the naval shipbuilding workforce says the college focus is on developing short-courses to “train workers from adjacent industries to adapt to the specific needs of naval shipbuilding.” Thus, in January, the college announced it “played a key role in creating a simple training kit which is now being rolled out by TAFE colleges around Australia to upskill students in welding technique.”
Good-o, but will this be enough to ensure there are sufficient workers when and where needed to build the 12 submarines, nine frigates, plus patrol boats planned?
It depends on which page of the discussion paper you are on. Yes, there are decade long shortages of some mechanics and sheet metal tradespeople. There aren’t enough experienced design engineers now and there were shortages of welders for the air warfare destroyer build.
But in the long-term all should be well, “provided the education and training system maintains an appropriate throughput of new students with appropriate skills, and firms continue to take on and develop entry-level employees.” Perhaps the shipbuilding college can get on to this when finished with welding techniques.