WA's Defence industry — The other force!

If you're looking for an exciting, long term career working at the forefront of industry — start something with WA's defence industry! Western Australia's defence industry is recognised as one of the most highly educated, qualified and skilled of its type in the world. Our defence industry is growing — it's already estimated to contribute over $3 billion a year to WA's economy, and that's set to double within the next decade. People from all walks of life are enjoying interesting and stable jobs, with the kind of work you'll only do as part of the defence industry.

Explore the following options to find out more about how we can help you with education and training, scholarships and special programs, and support to find a job so you can start something with WA's defence industry.

Free advice about training, jobs and careers

A specialist defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre (JSC). They can help with information about training, support to help with your job search or career change, and advice about career options.

All services at the Rockingham JSC, and at all other JSCs across WA, are free and available to anyone. 

Find out more about how they can help

 

Start something with WA's defence industry.

WA's defence industry needs skilled workers to meet future requirements and prepare for major projects happening now, and up to and beyond the next 20 years. From trades through to paraprofessional, professional and specialist roles; fantastic career opportunities are available across the five domains of the defence industry — information and cyber; maritime; air; space and land. Whatever you're into, and whatever stage you're at, there really is something for everyone. 

  • An exciting career at the forefront of industry
  • Working with exciting new technologies
  • Being part of WA's future success in major defence projects
  • A range of trade, paraprofessional, professional and specialist jobs
  • A range of work on interesting and challenging projects
  • Supporting our Australian Defence Force (ADF)
  • Ongoing opportunities for learning and skills development 
  • Career progression opportunities into leadership roles

About WA's defence industry

Four defence workers wearing PPE equipment, standing in front of a naval ship


 

WA's defence industry is...
 

  • made up of over 2,500 people*, employed by over 250 businesses and contractors* working across the five defence capability domains of the industry, who support Australia's military and defence forces (Army, Navy or Air Force).
  • people with trade and technical skills — from carpenters and welders through to mechanics and engineers — who build, manufacture and maintain Australia's fleets of ships, aircraft, space ground stations, submarines and vehicles; providing vital support and technical knowledge across a range of projects and business areas.
  • people in paraprofessional, professional and specialist roles in areas such as science, information and communications technology, management, communications, and infrastructure; who contribute to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber security and other electronic and information-based capabilities.
  • exciting and growing — it's already estimated to contribute $3 billion a year to WA's economy, and this figure is set to double within the next decade with a significant pipeline of work and major projects.
  • vital to our economy and job creation, keeping WA competitive in bids for future defence work and projects valued at up to $75 billion over the next decade.

It's estimated that an additional 1,100 skilled workers are required by 2027 across all defence domains, including in regional areas of WA. Future work includes the demand created by new ship build projects and other opportunities that may come to the state , such as eight mine warfare and hydrographic vessels; two large joint support ships; a range of defence projects to support Australia’s Army, Air Force and future nuclear-powered submarines; and critical projects to enhance our nation’s space and cyber capabilities. 

 

  • As one of two major national shipbuilding hubs, WA is building a range of naval vessels covering combat logistics, amphibious, support and patrol vessels. It is also one of the key sustainment locations supporting the fleet in Australia, including frigates and submarines.
  • WA’s geostrategic location confirms our position as the capital for defence in the Indo-Pacific region, and provides significant opportunities for local businesses to maintain, sustain, enhance and develop defence assets and capabilities.
  • WA has over 60 years of experience in the space sector and hosts infrastructure for civil and defence applications, with more than 70 international and Australian companies operating in space and space related services.
  • WA is home to the Australian Marine Complex (AMC), the largest shipbuilding industry in Australia. The AMC carries out major works and repair programs for the Navy's Collins Class submarines, ANZAC frigates and supply tankers as well as ship conversions, refits and repairs to large ocean vessels and aircraft.
  • Because WA plays an important role in national security, businesses are able to take advantage of local opportunities and offer long term job opportunities. With almost 6,000 defence personnel based in WA and 11 significant defence facilities including the RAAF base at Pearce and HMAS Stirling naval base at Garden Island, and strategic infrastructure and bases for the Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Army located here, the pipeline of work will continue long into future years. 

Future plans and projects

State and Commonwealth Government
  • Future projects scheduled for WA's maritime defence industry include the construction of a number of new naval vessels from 2024—25, generating a large number of direct and indirect local jobs, and the expansion of defence exercises in North West WA which will create more defence industry job opportunities in regional WA.
  • Work is underway to develop the Australian Automation and Robotics Precinct, which once completed will be one of the biggest test facilities in the world, providing boundless opportunities for Defence related robotics and autonomous innovation.
  • The WA State Government has committed to develop programs to grow the defence industry’s Industry 4.0 skill capabilities — those that use smart  and autonomous systems fuelled by data and machine learning — and the pipeline of professional and technical skilled workers needed for changing technologies.
  • The Australian Government is making a $270 billion investment in Australia's defence capability, to support industry and grow our workforce of skilled workers. 
  • In March 2022, WA's defence industry received a significant boost with the announcement of $4.3 billion to build a new dry dock at the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) in Henderson — a project that will create 500 jobs during construction peak, and 2,000 direct jobs once operations commence at the new dock. This is in addition to the $87.6 million investment in upgrades to the facilities at the AMC by the State Government.
  • In September 2020, the State Government committed to an $18 million investment to build a pipeline of skilled trades workers that will enable WA to attract national defence maritime projects. The 2022—23 State Budget included $11 million investment to the development of the paraprofessional and professional workers across the defence industry. These investments will help provide the skilled workers needed to support upcoming projects and secure future defence work, valued up to $75 billion nationally over the next ten years.
Useful links and information

If you'd like to learn more, please explore the following. 
 

 

Defence West logo

Defence West is  a specialist WA Government branch within the Department of Jobs, Tourism and Science; set up to grow the industry, expand infrastructure and create jobs across five operational areas; information and cyber, maritime, air, space, and land. They have recently published their Mission Update 2020, which details achievements to date and the mission for the next two years. There's also a number of useful industry videos on their website.

You can also follow Defence West on Facebook (@defencewest) for industry news.

The five domains of the defence industry

WA's defence industry develops, maintains, supports and implements cutting edge technology, infrastructure and assets across all five defence capability domains — information and cyber, maritime, air, space, and land. 

Each of these five domains offers a range of jobs and careers, and many occupations across trade, paraprofessional and professional roles (also referred to as blue collar, grey collar and white collar workers) exist in more than one domain — for example:

  • a welder or fabricator could be building ships (maritime domain), or carrying out maintenance on satellite dishes (space).
  • a software engineer could be developing apps for remote drone operations (air), or programs for network security (information and cyber).

This means that skills, knowledge and experience can be transferrable in more than one domain — potentially all five — which expands your career options and opportunities.

The following ten skills areas across these five domains have been identified as being in high demand for current and future workforce needs in WA's defence industry. 
 

  • Industry 4.0 engineering
  • Systems engineering
  • Software engineering
  • Network engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Sheetmetal trades
  • Cyber
  • Project management
  • Integrated logistics support (ILS)
  • Sales and commercial
Two male defence workers, working on a defence robot

New initiatives and programs for 2022—26

Building on the previous $18 million investment by the WA State Government to boost defence industry capabilities and trades workforce; a further $11 million investment was announced on 12 May 2022 as part of the WA State Budget 2022—23.

The new $11 million package will help to ensure a pipeline of skilled professional and paraprofessional workers, and create new opportunities for training and employment in this priority sector.  The new initiatives are as follows, and further details will be provided here as they become available. You can also download our information flyer, which provides further information about the Defence industry workforce initiatives.
 

Male defence worker, sitting at computer and smiling at camera
  • WA defence industry internship and graduate scholarship program
  • Defence reskilling and upskilling – Priority micro-credentials, skill set and Industry 4.0 product grant program to upskill and reskill new entrants and existing workers
  • Existing worker traineeship program supporting career progression for the defence industry’s existing workers; including a new Defence Industry Existing Worker Incentive (DIEWI) for employers;
  • A new program to articulate arrangements between vocational education and training (VET) and universities in defence industry related qualifications
  • Continue, enhance and expand the free defence industry specific career and training advisory services at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre
  • Veterans skills and transition initiative that complements the existing Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme (DIVES)
Please contact the Department of Training and Workforce Development's WA Defence Industry Workforce Office (WADIWO) if you would like to know more.

 

Defence industry workforce development plan

Over the next decade and beyond, WA's defence industry will need more workers with a range of skills. The Western Australian Defence Industry Workforce Development Plan 2022—27, developed through the Western Australian Defence Industry Workforce Office (WADIWO) and released by the State Government in November 2022, consolidates the strategies that have been committed to position WA for the pipeline of defence projects. 

The plan details the WA Government’s key initiatives and a workforce development package totalling over $35 million to ensure skilled trades, paraprofessional and professional workers are available for defence industry projects now and into the future. 

Western Australian Defence Industry Workforce Office

The WADIWO leads the development of workforce development initiatives, programs and strategies for WA's defence industry through working collaboratively with our world class education and training providers, key stakeholders and leading industry employers . WADIWO's work focuses on projects across all five of the defence capability domains — maritime, air, land, space, information and cyber — to ensure our defence industry has the skilled workforce it needs now and into the future.

Female defence worker, working on large piece of machinery

WA Defence Science Centre

The Defence Science Centre (DSC) is WA's contribution to the Australian Defence Science and Universities Network (ADSUN). This network supports the national Defence enterprise and facilitates engagement of Australia's best research and development capabilities through collaboration with state university researchers, industry, the Defence Science and Technology Group, and defence end users.

The DSC provides value to the defence industry by:

  • highlighting the local research capability;
  • facilitating collaboration on defence-relevant needs;
  • identifying opportunities for research and technology development, including through financial grants;
  • advocating on defence priorities, capabilities, needs and gaps;
  • promoting and showcasing WA defence research and innovation; and
  • cultivating relationships and linkages between universities and defence.
WA Defence Science Centre

Looking for career or training advice? We can help!

A dedicated defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre, with specialist experience. They can help you decide on the best options for training, job seeking and career planning to start something with WA's defence industry, and even assist with applying for jobs.

There's also other JSCs located across Perth and regional WA who offer general advice and support about training, careers and jobs. 

All JSC services are completely free of charge.

Contact the specialist defence industry team at the Rockingham JSC, or drop in for a chat.

P: 08 9599 8655
E: defence.careers@smtafe.wa.edu.au

South Metropolitan TAFE Rockingham campus
Simpson Avenue Rockingham (Building G)

To contact the other Jobs and Skills Centres across WA, follow the link below to find your local centre or call the number below to reach your nearest JSC.

 

Defence industry information and workforce statistics quoted on this page were taken from the State Government's WA Defence Industry Workforce Development Plan 2022—27information published by Defence West; and the WA Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan developed by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Industry (JTSI.)