The Current State Of Play In Defence Industry - A Breakdown By Sector

By Sophie Richards on 17 March 2021

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​​Whether you are new to the industry or a defence industry veteran, Kinexus’ Defence Industry Insights provides valuable information about what’s going on across the plethora of acquisition and sustainment projects and the key factors affecting the workforce.

Read on to discover what’s occurring across the industry by sector. For further information download the Seventh Edition of Kinexus’ Defence Industry Insights.




The naval sector continues to dominate, making up almost half of all industry hiring over the last 24 months, and this is set to continue over the next 12 months. Both acquisition and sustainment remain buoyant, with hiring activity focused in the Adelaide, Sydney and Perth markets. Whilst smaller, Canberra, Melbourne and Cairns continue to retain important naval skill hubs.

With the commissioning of HMAS Sydney in May 2020 signalling the completion of the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project, the new naval acquisition projects are now taking centre stage for hiring activity.

SEA 1180 is well underway, with production ongoing in South Australia (SA) and in Henderson, Western Australia (WA). There has, and will continue to be, increased hiring activity as a result of this, especially in WA as production transitions there.

WA is also readying itself to home the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Capability Life Cycle Manager (CLCM) project, and the naval community eagerly awaits the outcome of the Collins Class Submarine Full Cycle Docking (FCD) decision. As in other states, the defence industry in WA is challenged with meeting the high demand for engineering, production and ILS skill sets.

Workforce development continues on SEA 1000. We have witnessed modest workforce growth on this project and expect the next 12 months to bring the same. The establishment of new supply chains has brought about an increase in hiring within the SME community.


Hiring activity in the aerospace sector remains steady.

Queensland (QLD) continues to be a hub of activity, both above and below the line, where demand for skills in mechanical, structures and avionics engineering is ongoing.

Kinexus anticipates continued growth in the Brisbane area as organisations look to support their national and international interests from this location. Hiring for the ARH and MRH helicopters is also Brisbane-centric and remains steady.

At Williamtown, New South Wales (NSW) the RAAF continues to welcome new Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) into service and the disposal of the F/A-18 Classic Hornets is underway. The upgrade to the Hawk 127 and RAAF's E-7A Wedgetails means a moderate rate of ongoing recruitment activity for the medium term.

In SA work continues on the replacement of the AP-3C Orion with the P-8A aircraft, with the transition process due for completion in 2023.

We anticipate that the SA market will see a continued need for Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), software, hardware and electronics engineering skill sets over the coming months. Demand for these skill sets is increasingly prevalent in Adelaide on JORN Phase 6, and in the Melbourne market where a variety of air traffic management projects are based.


The land sector's significant September 2019 announcement of the down-selecting of two contenders for LAND 400 Phase 3 led to hiring across Victoria (VIC) and QLD associated with risk mitigation activities that will run well into 2021.

The LAND 400 Phase 2 project continues, stimulating hiring as a result of the establishment of manufacturing facilities in the Brisbane area. We anticipate further demand there for skill sets within engineering, especially in advanced manufacturing.

The Major Service Provider (MSP) landscape in Melbourne has experienced significant change with the award of major IWPs, and this has caused churn and growth within the above the line land sector. There is increased demand for candidates possessing commercial skills including contracts and procurement.

The area surrounding Geelong is becoming something of a regional hub with various defence suppliers and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based in this area. Kinexus expects to see moderate growth in this region which will put pressure on the already tight Melbourne market.

The downturn in the automotive industry presents some opportunities for the land sector, as we see the transition of ex-automotive engineering candidates into defence industry.

Outside of Victoria, SA continues to see demand for land skill sets both above and below the line, especially for those skilled in electronics.


Hiring across the ICT sector continues at a consistent pace. Activity across the ICTPA and CIOG has remained at business-as-usual levels, and salaries have stayed steady after several years of steep increases.

With no significant ICT projects scheduled to start in the coming months, ICT professionals are kept busy on a variety of land, naval, aerospace and joint projects.

Canberra continues to be the focus for ICT sector recruitment, especially for TSPV cleared candidates. The Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide markets see consistent demand for candidates with clearances at NV1 level and above. With a nod to the overall skills shortage, employers are increasingly open-minded around transferrable skill sets and backgrounds, but security clearances continue to be essential.

As the sector moves towards cloud technologies, there is increased demand for candidates with a broad breadth of different skills and languages. Individuals with experience in AWS and Azure are particularly sought after, especially those with experience in an integration environment.

Within the cyber domain, we have observed some defence organisations developing their own Security Operations Centres (SOC) to both service their internal needs as well as the needs of their clients. We predict that this will continue for the next 12 months.

Adjacent industries, like the federal government sector, are somewhat of a threat to defence industry due to the more relaxed security clearance requirements and long-term contract roles on offer. However, the interesting nature of the work within defence industry continues to keep many ICT candidates from changing industry.


Want to know more?

Inform your job hunt or arm yourself with the insights to make smart hiring decisions by staying on top of defence industry workforce trends.

For more depth on what’s happening across defence industry sectors download our Defence Industry Insights – 7th Edition and talk to Kinexus today.

Visit our website to get to know our team, or email your enquiry to and we’ll get straight back to you.

And you can download the 2021 Hiring Intentions and Workforce Report – a handy snapshot of anticipated workforce activity in the next 12 months - here.