Future-ready defence graduates acknowledged

Twenty-six university students were recognised at the Defence Industry Scholarship Program graduation ceremony held in Adelaide on 10 July 2024.

Now in its fifth year, the successful South Australian Government program is administered by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), supporting the development of a defence-ready workforce by providing students with unique insights into one of the state’s fastest growing sectors.

To date, the program has provided 91 students from Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia with grants of up to $10,000 to undertake placements across 26 host companies.

With more than 10,000 jobs to be created over the next two decades, Defence SA Chief Executive Matt Opie believes that the program will go a long way in supporting the state’s robust defence objectives.

“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,” he said.

Ai Group SA State Head Estha van der Linden added that the program offered companies the invaluable opportunity to connect and engage with the best and brightest university minds in South Australia.

“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.”

Returning host company Nova Systems has placed 16 students to date – including three in the latest round. The company’s Chief Executive Dean Rosenfield commended the program for continuously delivering on a high calibre of graduates.

“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.”

The graduation marks the end of the Defence Industry Scholarship Program with a new program with broader scope to commence later in the year as part of an initiative from the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report and Action Plan.

The $3.9 million Defence Industry Connection Program aims to accelerate students through defence industry-aligned courses and pathways from study to employment and forms part of the $58 million joint investment from the Commonwealth and South Australian Government.

In addition to the program, twenty-one other initiatives will be carried out including the establishment of a dedicated Skills and Training Academy (STA) at Osborne to uplift the shipbuilding and nuclear-powered submarine workforce.

“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.