Are Contractors the Solution to the Talent Shortage in Defence Industry?

By Sophie Richards on 09 November 2022

Image of a puzzle piece coming together
  • Kinexus hosted a seminar at Land Forces 2022 where industry leaders debated the strategic use of contractor capability in the workforce

  • Defence industry employers are increasingly using innovative methods to recruit and retain the workforces they need

  • Creating a contractor capability and optimising how it works will give the best results to defence industry organisations

Defence industry in Australia is not an easy industry in which to recruit and retain skilled workers. Salaries have risen by an average of 2.2% in the past 12 months, and will keep increasing. Employers have flagged that this cannot continue indefinitely, and alternative and more innovative methods must be adopted.

Alternative methods

Forward thinking employers have already implemented alternative sourcing methods. Some examples are below.

  • Location expectations have changed, and work is increasingly taken to the workers, rather than the other way around.

  • Making roles more accessible to neuro-diverse workers or those who have had career breaks.

  • Partnering with training institutions to implement theoretical and on-the-job training.

  • Focusing on employee value proposition in order to improve retention of current workers.

  • Reconsidering what makes a candidate suitable for a role. Considering alternatives like recruiting from a different industry, upskilling current workers or engaging contractors.


Advantages of engaging contractors

Contractors may be the greatest untapped resource defence industry has at its disposal. Kinexus research shows that over half the defence industry workforce are open to taking on a contract role in the next 12 months. Industry confidence is at an all time high, which is likely to be contributing to this trend.

So what are some of the benefits of engaging contractors?

  1. Contractors generally have extensive experience and skills in their area of expertise. By engaging contractors, organisations get access to this knowledge and therefore make more efficient use of defence industry resources.

  2. Contractors bring unique perspectives formed over years of experience in different work environments and projects. The innovation, perspective and vision they bring is likely to be different to permanent staff.

  3. Engaging contractors breaks what can be a never-ending cycle of salary increases. Competition between employers is rife and well-paying adjacent industries are driving salaries skyward.

  4. Diversity of thought and talent is advantageous to productivity and the efficiency of workforces as a whole.


Ways to optimise a contractor capability

Engaging contractors is one thing, but how to make the most of their skills and experience is another. Here are our top tips on how to do just that.

  1. Make strategic decisions on what capability should be built in house and what should be contracted to individuals or external organisations. Be proactive, not reactive.

  2. Contracting out work can feel daunting due to the trust and reliance put on an external individuals or organisations. View contractor suppliers as partners and invest in the relationship; this will help foster the most efficient relationship.

  3. Identify partners who can provide contractors to support the peaks and troughs in workload and set up panels so when work comes up, suppliers can respond quickly.

  4. Build a culture across the whole workforce – permanent staff, contractors and everyone in between – that demands the focus is delivery to Defence. This is the common goal everyone can be united behind.


Thanks to Michael Fitzgerald from Jacobs Australia, Natalie Waldie from BAE Systems Australia and Brent Clark from AIDN for their invaluable insights shared at Land Forces 2022.


If this has got you interested in how to build a contractor capability, reach out to your closest office and we can put you in touch with a contract expert at Kinexus. We also have a great eBook on the subject which will tell you all you need to know. 


Photo by Edge2Edge Media on Unsplash

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