3 things you should know about Defence in WA

By Olivia Agate on 19 August 2019

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I was recently in Western Australia (WA) with two of my legendary colleagues to catch up with our key clients and candidates. It’s a trip we like to make as often as possible, as it’s lovely as ever to see everyone we work with, and because we’re seeing real growth in the Defence Industry in WA over the next couple of years.

We want to be there with you on that journey. Here are some key takeaways from our trip that I wanted to share.

(1) There’s strength in numbers

The biggest stand-out from our trip was the growth that is happening over in the West – every conversation we had involved some mention of it. When it came to new hires, the numbers could be anywhere from a couple of new people up to 200.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Construction of the third Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) commences in 2021
  • New Defence organisations are entering the Australian market

It’s also worth noting in the Eastern states, high demand for skilled workers and competition for the same skill sets is not alleviating. This is causing some Defence companies to look at moving their growth opportunities elsewhere, which will likely include WA.

(2) The opportunity is there

There’s a huge amount of opportunity within the Defence Industry in WA, and people are feeling pretty optimistic. There’s a lot of hearsay about more work on Life of Type Extension (LOTE) happening, as well as the Full Cycle Docking (FCD) of the Collins Class Submarines. Whether these projects come to life or not is yet to be determined, but no one can deny that the whole of Industry will be seeing an increase in head count at least.

(3) It’s not all smooth sailing

Even with all this good stuff happening, there will always be weaknesses and threats to the industry. Defence companies in WA (outside of normal attrition) haven’t had to compete with each other for over ten years, therefore they’re not too familiar (if at all) with how increasing competition will pan out.

Those big numbers I mentioned will start coming through the pipe as early as the first half of next year. Defence companies in WA need to start thinking about this now, and take it into consideration while hiring.

And we haven’t talked about competition from other industries yet. Other sectors a real threat to the Defence Industry; Oil and Gas, and Mining in particular. Money is by no means everything, but it does help, and you’ll find that salaries are and always have been a lot higher in Defence’s adjacent industries. The blue collar workforce will be really affected by this.

One thing Defence does have over competing industries is longevity and stability. Plus, the work is infinitely more interesting and – dare I say it – way cooler.

So, there’s a lot going on in WA at the moment.

I believe that there are some really exciting times ahead. An abundance of opportunity, and plenty of work – with or without the rumoured additional projects. In such a small market, Defence companies hiring in WA will need to be aware of how to deal with increasing competition – against both each other and other industries.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

By Olvia Agate

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