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Defence industry salary slowdown. How does your state and skill set stack up?

By Evan Fortescue on 31 March 2021

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Unique state and territory capabilities and requirements, along with the ever-changing project landscape, contribute to fluctuations in defence industry salary trends both state-wide and nationally.

A far cry from the 4% increase we saw in 2017, 2020 saw a national salary increase of just 0.6%. We reported in our Defence Industry Insights – 7thEditionthat this slowdown was not as a result of supply meeting demand, but rather due to defence industry employers being unwilling or unable to pay more. 

There are two main reasons for these results. Firstly, many defence employers have already reached the limits of what they have budgeted to pay in remuneration. Secondly, employers are constrained in their ability to offer higher salaries to attract new staff by the need to have consistency with the remuneration in place for existing staff. 

So against the national back drop of low salary increases, how does each state compare? And what skill sets have managed to buck the flattening trend to come out ahead? Read on to find out more. 

NSW

Demand for sustainment skill sets, specifically engineering and ILS, remains high in Sydney. As supply chains become established on the major naval acquisition projects, drive for engineers and PMO professionals with acquisition experience will also increase. Sales and business development skill sets have seen higher than average salary increases, but other wise there have been no notable salary changes across the range of skill sets in NSW.

ACT

Professional services and consulting skills are in high demand in the ACT due to the prevalence of above the line work across all defence sectors, especially PMO, scheduling, procurement and purchasing skills. This demand is reflected in positive salary increases.

Canberra continues to be the centre of Defence ICT work and demand for professionals with TSPV clearances remains. We anticipate skill sets such as cloud technology and integration to be among the highest in demand over the next 12 months. ICT salaries have remained steady.

VIC

Major changes to defence industry contracting arrangements over the last 12 months have stimulated growth in the Melbourne market. Commercial, PMO and logistics skill sets are in high demand.

Victoria has experienced the largest change in engineering salaries nationally, and technical writer and ILS analyst skill sets have seen particularly high salary increases. 

SA

Naval acquisition drives the market in SA for senior systems, project and electrical engineers and salaries across all three skill sets have increased the most, along with account and bid managers. 

The ICT sector has also experienced growth, particularly across software tester and security engineering subsets, where demand is high and salary increases reflect that. 

WA

Western Australia is one of the only states and territories surveyed that experienced an overall decline in salaries, albeit byonly0.1%.Certain skill sets including marine technician and logistics / supply chain managers have experienced modest growth. 

It is anticipated that over the next 12 months demand will outstrip supply of Defence-skilled workers across all skill sets, but engineering and ILS skill sets will be in particular demand.