Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter was pleased to host the Australian Government’s National Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Facilitator, Mr Stephen Hayes MBE, in the region last week.
Mr Hayes was appointed by (then) Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon. Christopher Pyne to inform the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy, due for release during the third quarter 2018. The Strategy will guide Federal industry skilling policy decisions to ensure Australia’s workforce is appropriately large and skilled enough to deliver the Country’s current and future defence projects.
Mr Hayes is providing strategic advice and support consultation with a range of stakeholders on Australia’s defence industry skilling and STEM challenges, risks, gaps, and opportunities. He’s assessing options to address the long-term Defence need for a skilled defence industry workforce; international approaches and advice on their applicability to Australia’s circumstances; strategic workforce planning for continuous shipbuilding and the implementation of the Naval Shipbuilding College.
As part of his research, Mr Hayes requested a familiarisation of RDA Hunter’s flagship project, the ME Program, which is considered an exemplar of successful industry, school partnerships by the Australian Government.
RDA Hunter introduced Mr Hayes to students, teachers and senior management at St Philips Christian College Waratah where he saw first-hand the breadth of students’ STEM knowledge and its applications in their major projects. He also discussed the business acumen programs and other opportunities students have undertaken as a result of participation in the ME Program with St Philip’s Principal, Mrs Pam O’Dea who reinforced the value of the ME Program and iSTEM to students, teachers and the whole school community.
Mr Hayes visited Bohemia Interactive Simulations to get an understanding of the region’s computer engineering capability as well as future workforce requirements in the field. He also met industry partners including BAE Systems, Boeing Defence Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Varley and RAAF to discuss the contribution of the ME Program in satisfying their workforce requirements. Consensus from defence industry partners that the program’s success is based on it being industry-led and having true industry buy-in was welcomed by Mr Hayes who added that industry must see value in the program to continue to participate.
He also commented that results predicate future investment, that the Hunter is an exemplar for the nation and that he’d like to see an amplification of the good things that are happening here.
“It’s heartening to see such good work being done in what is clearly a close knit ecosystem (jn the Hunter region). The visit reaffirmed why RDA Hunter’s ME Program is recognised as the benchmark.” Mr Hayes said.
For further information on the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy visit http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/Industry/IndustrySkillingSupport.asp