Now is the time to join South Australia’s defence and space industries

There’s never been a better time to join South Australia’s defence and space industries, with workers needed now to get started on a lucrative career, spanning decades.

Recent research conducted by Defence SA shows that while the defence industry alone in South Australia is expected to need an additional 10,000 people over the next 10 years, not everyone is aware of the career opportunities available in the state.

Defence SA Chief Executive Richard Price said the highest priority for South Australia is building the workforce needed for large-scale projects, including the nuclear-powered submarines and Hunter Class frigates, as well as key Defence Force priorities such as information warfare.

“One part of building the workforce is ensuring people are aware of the opportunities and the pathways available to them to get there, so it is about education,” said Richard.

“The recent survey found that only 44% of respondents knew that you didn’t need to be part of the Defence Force to be part of the defence industry. And only 11% realised that a career in the defence industry is a lifelong career of 25 years and beyond.”

When it comes to the space industry, very few people were aware of the opportunities opening up in South Australia. Only 35% believed there are many opportunities, compared with 70% for the defence industry.

“Our state is supporting the Australian Space Agency’s objective of growing the space workforce to 20,000 by 2030 so we are also keen to promote the opportunities in that sector.

“South Australia is home to the Australian Space Agency and more than 100 space-related organisations undertaking ground-breaking work in everything from small satellite manufacture to earth observation and also launch.”

Defence SA’s research also revealed significantly more men than women thought a career in the defence and space industries was for them, with 38% of men stating they were likely to pursue a career in South Australia’s defence or space industries, compared with only 22% of women.

Farisha Jamal knows all too well that a career in South Australia’s space industry is very much achievable for young female engineers, working for local space launch provider Southern Launch as an Avionics Engineer.

After initially considering a career as an accountant or lawyer, she made a last-minute decision to pursue a degree in space engineering and hasn’t looked back.

Farisha completed an Honours in Engineering (Aeronautical – space) and a Bachelor of Science majoring in advanced physics and maths at the University of Sydney, before working at Boeing Aerostructures Australia in Melbourne for two years. She has since moved back to Adelaide to be a part of South Australia’s growing space industry.

“It was exciting moving back to South Australia not only because it’s where I’m from, but because of the emerging space industry”, she said. “I wanted to help build the space industry in Australia from the ground up, rather than work overseas in an industry that’s already established.”

When asked what final advice she has for someone looking to pursue a career in defence and apace, Farisha says go for it.

“Don’t let the intimidation get in the way of doing something that you really want to do. If you have a passion for it, then you should pursue it regardless of the setbacks that may come.”

“Diversity is really important – it’s not just about gender, but different backgrounds, life experiences and outlooks bring different ways of thinking. A team needs that to be innovative and progressive,” she said.

Defence SA’s Find Your Place advertising campaign is continuing in 2023, with a key element shining a spotlight on real life workers in the industry, like Farisha, and sharing their stories of how they found their career in the industry.

“We are also hoping to de-bunk some of those myths about what a career in the defence and space industries looks like and outline the pathways of how you can get there,” said Richard.

While educating the potential workforce about the opportunities is one element, ensuring there is a robust workforce plan in place and appropriate training pathways available is also vital.

“We are working closely with the Australian Government on the Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Taskforce to develop and implement a skills and workforce plan. We are also building five new technical colleges to support secondary school students to undertake vocational and technical training, including training relevant to defence.”

“People might be surprised about the type of careers available. We aren’t just talking about engineers and scientists, there are also roles in project management, operations and trades, as well as design and IT.”

There has been good progress over the last two years with Defence SA’s 2021 research measuring awareness of defence and space industry opportunities at 35% and 20% respectively.

Visit www.FindYourPlaceSA.com for more information about a career in South Australia’s defence and space industries.