Peter Malinauskas MP

Susan Close MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

The South Australian Government will partner with the University of South Australia (UniSA), defence industry and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) to fast-track a university degree apprenticeship pilot program for the growing defence sector, ahead of the construction of nuclear-powered AUKUS submarines.

The Malinauskas Labor Government has committed $450,000 over three years to support the establishment of a software engineering degree apprenticeship that will enable students to earn while they learn and prepare for defence careers.

UniSA will design, develop and co-deliver the course with host employers, design and implement host employer supervisor training plans, and provide ongoing support for host employers and apprentices throughout the program.

Degree apprenticeships for the defence industry are currently delivered with success in the United Kingdom, with a very high graduate retention and completion.
They have also increased diversity, attracting more women and candidates who may not have considered a traditional degree pathway.

Based on the UK model, Ai Group – which runs the Defence Council, and local defence industry have begun working with UniSA to develop the software engineering degree apprenticeship to be delivered in South Australia.

The South Australian Government’s contribution will enable the pilot to progress quickly, with the goal to enable the first intake of Software Engineering apprentices to commence in 2024.

BAE Systems Australia employs more than a hundred software engineers in South Australia and will be required to double that figure in the next few years due to existing planned work.

Under the new program, graduates would obtain a Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) through a combination of university and workplace learning over the duration of the degree.

Strong support for the degree apprenticeship model exists within the wider defence industry, with benefits including consistent on-the-job supervision, workplace assessment and a customised curriculum to suit workplace requirements.

This initiative will enable the degree apprenticeship model to be developed and applied to other relevant defence related disciplines such as electrical and mechanical engineering.

Quotes attributable to Peter Malinauskas

Here in the United Kingdom, I had the opportunity to see degree apprenticeships at work at BAE Systems’s submarine shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.

This is exactly the sort of opportunity we should be exploring to rapidly increase the skill levels in our defence workforce as we prepare to build the most complex machines on earth.

Degree apprenticeships are a way people can both earn and learn, receiving higher education qualifications, while gaining experience in the workplace.

The UK evidence suggests this is a way we can also broaden and diversify our workforce, which we will absolutely need to do to deliver the massive AUKUS undertaking.

Quotes attributable to Susan Close

This innovative pilot will help to provide the skills the South Australian defence industry needs over the coming years.

Degree apprenticeships are increasingly common in defence and other high-tech industries that need skilled workers with hands on experience.

This new model is among a range of Malinauskas government initiatives aimed at creating the workforce government and industry needs to compete in both local and global supply chains.

Quotes attributable to Professor David Lloyd, UniSA Vice Chancellor

As Australia’s University of Enterprise, UniSA has always worked closely with industry and government to respond to changing workplace needs.

With South Australia poised to deliver the single biggest defence project in our country’s history – the construction of nuclear-powered submarines – it is critical that UniSA plays a major role in producing highly-skilled graduates that meet defence requirements.

UniSA is proud to partner with the State Government, the Australian Industry Group and the next generation of software engineers who will be vital to our defence sector in the decades ahead.

Quotes attributable to Jodie van Deventer, Head – South Australia, Ai Group

Degree-level apprenticeships reflect an increasing demand in industry for higher level skills.

They can help ensure university graduates gain the additional skills they need to be productive in a workplace and can also provide employers early access to future employees.

The degree apprenticeship model opens opportunities for a professional career to people who may not have previously considered full-time study. This can grow the number of university-qualified people employed in the workforce.

Bold new models to develop the skills required for the shipbuilding program are timely. The degree apprenticeship model, proven in the UK, is an important addition to our high-end skilling opportunities.

Ai Group looks forward to ensuring the needs fo industry are embedded into this new degree apprenticeship model.

Published On: March 17th, 2023