In this week's blog, we take a look at the hive of activity in the Australian Defence Industry and break it down by sector. Whether it’s stepping into the future by investing in new platforms, or keeping things on track via maintenance programs, it helps to have a snapshot handy.
Read on to find out what’s happening in sea, land, air, and ICT.
Everywhere you look, things are busy in Defence – but Naval is arguably the most active. As we noted in the Defence Industry Insights – Fifth Edition, the sector represents around 50% of total hiring activity within the Defence Industry.
Over the next 12 months, we’ll see a lot of hiring in Melbourne, Adelaide, and WA in support of the SEA 1000, SEA 5000, and SEA 1180 acquisition projects.
Now that the Future Submarine Strategic Partnering Agreement has been signed off, the prime contractor can take SEA 1000 into the detailed design phase. SEA 5000 is in a similar state, with both primes and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to recruit people with engineering, project management, and commercial skills. The process began late last year, but will accelerate throughout the rest of 2019.
Naval people are busy with numerous platform upgrades, but they’re set to get even busier with the Collins Life of Type Extension (LOTE) project. WA will see a lot of demand for workers with naval skill sets due to the redesign of the U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship, as well as construction of two new mine warfare support vessels and a hydrographic vessel.
Above the line, Canberra is seeing strong demand for workers to support various maritime and naval acquisition projects, most of which is driven by the Major Service Provider (MSP) and the Defence Support Services (DSS) Panel.
In many areas of Defence, supply of skilled workers is not meeting demand. This is especially true for the Naval Sector, and will be felt most in NSW and WA.
Hiring in the Land Sector is largely driven by LAND 400 Phase 2, which will be ramping up over the next 12 months. While Phase 3 hasn’t yet been awarded, around September we can expect the government to announce the down-selection of the two companies who will progress to the risk mitigation stage.
As you may have heard, the self-propelled howitzer program has been revived. The newly named LAND 8112 project is certain to generate a fair amount of buzz around the industry – watch this space as more develops on possible locations and tenderers.
Demand for engineering and project support workers remains constant to support the continued replacement of Army’s land vehicles, LAND 121.
Hiring in the Aerospace Sector is mostly centred around phasing in several new aircraft platforms.
Transitioning of the C-27 from Royal Australian Air force (RAAF) base Richmond to RAAF Base Amberley is now complete, while the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is gradually making its way into service and the AP-3C Orion (P-3) is phased out by the P-8A. Adelaide, SA, and Newcastle in NSW are building up workforces off the back of these projects.
Kinexus expects to see a small amount of hiring in south-east QLD to support the sustainment and upgrade of the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Multi-Role Helicopter platforms.
In the above the line space, professional service providers have seen the strongest growth. This is a trend we think will continue for at least the next six to 12 months in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
It's business as usual for this sector, with consistent demand for ICT skill sets across the board.
The biggest conversation driver is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program. The Department of Defence has down-selected two companies as strategic partners and two integrators, keeping Industry on standby for further announcements and waiting with baited breath.
While there’s a lot of work on offer, and demand for ICT specialists is high, the opportunities for higher paying daily rate contracts are diminishing. This is causing Defence a fair bit of grief, as competition from other industries like Banking, Finance, Health, and Insurance means cyber workers are being tempted by much higher salaries elsewhere. The good news is Kinexus often hears from candidates that the strength of the Defence Industry is that the work is super interesting, particularly in ICT.
Other challenges include competition for workers with high-level security clearances. Many Defence companies are reluctant to hire uncleared citizens who are eligible for security clearances, as they would struggle to give them meaningful work throughout the extensive clearance process.