Twenty-six university students have today been acknowledged for completing the South Australian Government’s Defence Industry Scholarship Program.

Administered by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the program supports the development of a defence-ready workforce by providing work-based learning opportunities for university students.

The students, with representatives from Adelaide University, Flinders University and the University of South Australia, are all high calibre students completing a degree in either STEM or business. The students received grants of up to $10,000 to undertake placements with a local defence company.

Defence SA Chief Executive Matt Opie said the scholarship program has proven to be hugely successful since the first cohort of students commenced the program in July 2019.

“The program has supported 91 students to complete placements across 26 host companies, including 19 SMEs and seven defence primes,” said Mr Opie.

“It provides a unique way for university students to get a foot in the door to an exciting career in the defence and space industries. More than 80 per cent of students have gone on to gain further employment post-degree completion or in some cases part-time while completing their degree.”

Ai Group SA State Head Estha van der Linden said Ai Group was a proud partner in delivering the program, including matching students with their host companies.

“Organisations we have partnered with say the program is an invaluable way of engaging with universities and recruiting the best and brightest students,” Ms van der Linden said.

“They’ve seen a real return on investment while helping students gain the kind of practical skills and knowledge that are available when applied in a workplace setting.”

Nova Systems Chief Executive Dean Rosenfield, said Nova Systems has found the program valuable in identifying enthusiastic and highly talented graduates having placed 16 students over the years, including three in the latest round.

“Defence industry offers a wealth of opportunities for young people to be involved in meaningful globally significant projects that keep our country and people safe. The Defence Industry Scholarship Program is an important part of fostering the next generation of talent and we’re pleased a number of students are starting their careers with us at Nova Systems,” said Mr Rosenfield.

While this cohort of students will be the last to complete the Defence Industry Scholarship Program, a new program with a broader scope is being developed as part of an initiative from the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report.

Building on the success of the Defence Industry Scholarship Program, the South Australian Government is working to establish a new Defence Industry Connection Program, which will commence later this year.

This new program, a $3.9 million investment, will support students in defence industry-aligned courses and help them transition from study to employment.

“The South Australian Government is steadfast in our commitment to ensuring we have the highly skilled workforce in place for major defence industry projects occurring in the state,” said Mr Opie.

“We are looking at 10,000 additional jobs in the defence industry over the next two decades so programs like the Defence Industry Connection Program will be vital in building that workforce.”

Published On: July 10th, 2024