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What You Need to Know Before Entering the Defence Industry Workforce

By Kinexus on 17 May 2018

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Defence Industry is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the country, with the yearly budget set to increase by over 80 percent — from A$32.4 billion in the 2016-17 FY to A$58.7 billion in 2025-26 FY — over the next decade. As the Commonwealth commits to upgrading a multitude of platforms, systems and infrastructure, the industry is experiencing a renewed focus on large-scale growth and innovation. To deliver on these large and long-term projects set out in the 2016 Defence White Paper, a collaboration between Defence and industry is a vital priority, along with huge workforce growth.

As it becomes progressively clear that there are not enough workers in Defence Industry to fill all the roles needed, Defence Industry organisations are increasingly looking outside of the industry to find the talent required. Although this presents an excellent opportunity to those outside of defence looking to reap the rewards of working in Defence Industry; historically, individuals that are unfamiliar with the unique characteristics of the Defence Industry workforce have found it difficult to integrate into this complex industry.

To help much-needed talent make the most of new opportunities in Defence Industry, we have compiled some tips on how to familiarise yourself with the industry before you enter it for the first time.

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN ACCLIMATISING

Commonwealth and Commercial Defence Organisations Are Tightly Entwined
It is a common misconception that if you work in commercial ‘Defence Industry’ that you are completely separate to Commonwealth defence organisations (such as the Australian Defence Force). Although you might work for a commercial consultancy, you might be required to work on a Commonwealth defence site or collaborate closely with someone in uniform. With the Commonwealth as the end client, keep in mind that all the work you do filters into the larger picture of national intelligence and security. By understanding that everyone is a cog in a larger machine, you will more readily understand motivations behind the decision making processes.

You Might Not Have Access to All Levels of Information
The level of security classification regulates all information in Defence Industry. These classifications are in line with security clearances, with the most secure information, only privy to those with the highest level of clearance and genuine a ‘need-to-know’ for the performance of their duties. What this means for you is that you might not have access to all information about a certain department, project, network or organisation. Don’t expect access to all information and be prepared to make do with the information available to you at your clearance level. The only other option is upgrading your clearance, which involves considerable time and resources.

Communication Styles Vary
Defence Industry value efficient communication. A straightforward and precise approach aims to optimise processes within tight timeframes. Try and take a direct and professional approach yourself when asking questions and clarifying processes. There is a big emphasis on being accountable for setbacks and developing solutions, so make sure you get to the point when communicating.

Some Systems and Processes Might Seem Outdated
Although billions of dollars have been committed to upgrading many defence platforms over the next decade, Defence Industry still relies on many legacy software languages and hardware. Set your expectations now and don’t be surprised when you come across this at some point during your time in Defence Industry. Although older systems may have been phased out years ago in the commercial space, they have lingered in defence because of their wide-scale use. Having said this, Defence Industry is rapidly introducing digital manufacturing technology and processes.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR FIRST DAY

There is plenty of information available online relating to Defence and Defence Industry, but to help focus your attention, at the very least, make sure that you have ticked these boxes before your first day:

  • Understand the overall structure and differences between Army, Navy and Air Force.

  • Familiarise yourself with the different ADF ranks. This will come in handy at some point!

  • Acquaint yourself with the basics of security clearances, including requirements and how they work.

  • Understand how Commonwealth defence and industry work together, including how work is released and won on a project basis.

  • Read the 2016 Defence White Paper, which highlights key priorities over the next decade.

  • Who are the main companies, and Commonwealth organisations such as CASG.

  • What are the big projects?

Defence is a robust industry with much to offer: job security, high-end technology, meaningful projects and more, but it is inherently complex. When entering the industry for the first time, preparing yourself in advance and keeping these key things in mind can help you integrate quickly and avoid any surprises.

To find out more about finding your first Defence Industry role, contact one of our specialist Defence Industry consultants by calling 02 9492 7500 or sending your resume to cv@kinexus.com.au.

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