Philip Smart | Pacific 2017, Sydney
With workforce skills flagged as a critical element of executing Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan, nine universities, TAFEs and industry organisations have come together to ensure academia will produce the graduates industry will need for the long haul.
Launched at the Pacific 2017 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney on Wednesday, the Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium (DIESC) includes five universities, two TAFEs and bodies such as the WA Government, Indigenous Defence Consortium and Defence Teaming Centre (DTC).
What we’re now inviting industry to do is lean forward and tell us what they need
The launch included a panel discussion combining academic leaders with executives from shipbuilders Naval Group, Navantia, Fincantieri, Austal and BAE Systems, covering issues such as the perception of engineering, competition and collaboration and the roles of university and vocational education.
While it is generally perceived that the Australian education system and industry already have around 80 per cent of the capabilities and skills needed for coming projects, the DIESC aims to define the remaining 20 per cent, described at the launch by Fincantieri’s Mat Hunter as the “herbs and spices” of the skills recipe.
Defence Teaming Centre CEO and DIESC spokesperson Margot Forster said the consortium would form a critical interface between industry and academia.
“We’re looking for industry to tell us what they need in terms of the skills and capabilities of graduates coming through the education system,” she told ADM. “We know that we have good products in terms of the graduates that come from the vocational and higher education systems, but it’s about 80 per cent right. As one of our panellists said, we’re looking for the formula for the herbs and spices. How do we ‘marinise’ the course?”
Through DIESC involvement, the curriculum in the latter part of relevant courses will be tuned to the needs of industry.
“We will customise the final year of course content to give a context around why you’re learning to be an engineer. There is a difference between building infrastructure, or a tank or an aircraft, and building a ship. And it’s in that last couple of years, where you do your contextualised education, that we can now hope to really give a high value product to industry.
“Industry can enter the consortium through any of the partners, through the Indigenous Defence Consortium, the Defence Teaming Centre, or any of the education or vocational institutions. But what we’re now inviting industry to do is lean forward and tell us what they need.”
More information on the DIESC is available at dtc.org.au/DIESC.