Important Takeaways From DTC’s Defence Leaders Breakfast

By Rob Kremer on 13 October 2021

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​On 29th September 2021, Kinexus Director and Defence Sector Lead Rob Kremer was a speaker and panellist at DTC’s Defence Leaders Breakfast. Hosted in Adelaide and opened by SA Premier Steven Marshall, Rob dialled in to present his key findings on workforce challenges and opportunities, incorporating insights from the recently published Defence Industry Insights – Eighth Edition.

Alongside host Audra McCarthy and panellists Melissa Ciplys, Richard Price and Geoff Rohrsheim, the discussion ranged from AUKUS and the future of the South Australian workforce to Employee Value Propositions and hiring from adjacent industries.

Here are Rob’s key takeaways from the event.


1.      Nuclear submarines and what they mean for the workforce

A deeply disappointing decision for many, the AUKUS announcement and subsequent impact on the SEA 1000 project is still being unpacked. Whilst it will take some time for the dust to settle, it is certain that everyone involved in submarine work in SA will find employment within defence industry, thanks to an initiative by ASC, as well as strong demand from other programs.

It should be remembered that demand for defence industry skilled workers in SA is still very high, and some employers intend to hire workers in the triple digits before 2022. For more information on this topic, see our blog A New Submarine Capability, But What Happens Now?


2.      Adjacent industries and how to integrate them

The South Australian workforce has the highest proportion of workers with defence industry experience nationwide. This means that, when employers look to adjacent industries to find workers to grow the white-collar defence industry workforce, they will likely be more efficiently and easily integrated than those in other states.

The relatively modest level of investment in infrastructure projects in SA compared to NSW and VIC means that adjacent industries are unlikely to compete with defence industry for workers at the levels experienced elsewhere.

Employers should prepare for employment strategies that include attracting, assessing, hiring and integrating workers from other industries.


3.      Employee Value Proposition

Average salaries have risen by 1.3% nationally, but salary cannot be relied upon as a primary employment motivator. In fact, salary should be considered a ‘hygiene factor’, an aspect of employment that must be provided at a fair rate, but one that sits alongside various other ‘motivators’ to create an overall Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

In this tight market, businesses must establish and communicate a clear value proposition to their workers, one that offers more than just salary. This is essential for effective attraction and retention.

Flexible work, both in work hours and location, is a benefit that has transitioned from appreciated to expected by many defence industry workers. For many, it is no longer a nice-to-have. Employers should find a way to offer this to keep pace with workforce expectations and the industry at large.


4.      A shift to contracting

Data shows that the South Australian defence industry workforce is extremely confident in their career prospects. Kinexus’ Defence Industry Workforce Survey, most recently completed in April 2021, shows that 56% of respondents in SA were ‘very confident’ that the defence industry would provide them with a long-term career. This is eight percentage points higher than the national average.

Experience shows that when a workforce is very confident and there is plenty of work available, increasing numbers of workers will turn away from permanent employment and towards contracting.

Employers should plan for this. It’s important to know the key skill sets in demand in defence industry, and to understand the exposure your business will have to those skill sets. Setting company policies on the proportion of the workforce that is contingent and the proportion that is permanent can also mitigate the impact.


About Kinexus

Kinexus is a defence industry focused recruitment and workforce strategy company. We support the Commonwealth, primes, SMEs and consultancies by providing them with security-cleared engineering and ICT workers.

In September 2021, we released the eighth edition of our Defence Industry Insights, a one stop shop for all things defence industry workforce. To arrange for our team to present the findings to your organisation, similar to the presentation Rob provided at the DTC Defence Leaders Breakfast, please get in touch.

For more information on what Kinexus do, please visit our website.

Photo credit: DTC

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