What is defence industry?

The Australian defence industry is made up of thousands of Australian businesses across the country who are not in the Defence Force but who use their expertise, experience and trade skills to supply and support it. These companies and their employees form the workforce that enable the Defence Force to do its job.

In total defence industry employs around 27,000 people who supply and support not only the Australian Defence Force but also other international Defence Forces, particularly within the United States and Europe. Internationally Australia exports over AUD$750 million of defence products and services.

There are several major suppliers to Defence called Primes and all are foreign owned with the exception of Australian Submarine Corporation. These Primes include BAE Systems, Raytheon, Thales, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, Rheinmetall, Airbus and Boeing. The small to medium enterprises (SMEs), which numbers around 3000 organisations, form an integral part of defence industry. SMEs account for approximately 50 per cent of employment in the defence sector.

Industry Capability

Australian companies are well known for supplying quality, leading edge products based on technologically advanced capability solutions, and typically employ platforms common to major NATO countries for interoperability purposes.

Specialist products include command and control systems, multi-sensor data fusion, signal processing, underwater systems, phased array radar, navigation and positioning aids, logistics support systems, and self-monitoring propulsion systems.

Specialty skills include complex systems integration, data analytics, the welding of complex metal alloys and ship design and manufacturing as well as production of aircraft structures.

Why has such a large industry developed in Australia?

Australia’s military operating environment is amongst the most challenging in the world. The Australian continent borders three of the world’s great oceans.

$200 billion is being invested by the Australian Government to modernise Australia’s defence capability, securing our nation while strengthening our defence industry and creating Australian jobs.

Over the next decade and beyond, the demand will increase for Australian workers with trade, technical and science and technology skills within defence industry. Australian workers will be required to design, install, build, integrate systems and maintain our ships, submarines, aircraft, land vehicles, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and information technology and cyber security, and provide services to support the men and women in the Australian Defence Force.

This is an exciting industry to be involved in, and an abundance of career choices are available also to veterans. South Australia’s defence industry is seeking to secure the employment of veterans. It is vital that we are able to retain the skills and experience developed during service in the Australian Defence Force to deliver the capabilities required to build, service and maintain our future military equipment requirements.

The South Australia Government recognises the value of those that have served within the Australian Defence Force and the importance of and retaining their diverse and highly technical skills within the defence industry when they transition from their roles with Defence.

The Premier of South Australia is committed to supporting any Veteran that seeks a role within defence industry. Whilst a large proportion of veterans will move into roles with companies that are primarily focused on defence there are many companies where defence is only one of a number of sectors, they work in.

The South Australian Veterans Employment Program seeks to welcome all Veterans by supporting them to secure employment within the South Australia in any company that delivers into Defence regardless of the percentage of defence work undertaken. South Australia has a large proportion of SMEs within its defence ecosystem with many seeking to increase the proportion of work they deliver to defence. The skills and experience of our veteran community will provide significant advantages to businesses working in or seeking to work in the Defence sector.

The South Australian SME community is engaged in a variety of sectors ranging from Defence, Aerospace, Space, Resources, Agriculture, Medical, Automotive, Autonomous Vehicles, Precision and Advanced Manufacturing.

What industries are included?

The South Australia Government recognises the value of those that have served within the ADF and the importance of retaining their diverse skills and experience within the defence industry when they transition from their roles with Defence.

South Australia’s Premier has the ambition of supporting any veteran that seeks a role within Industry. Whilst a large proportion of veterans will move into roles with companies that are primarily focused on defence there are many companies where defence is only one of a number of sectors, they work in.  This provides additional employment opportunities for former Defence Personnel across a wide range of skills.

The South Australian Veterans Employment Program seeks to welcome all veterans by supporting them to secure employment within the South Australia in any company that delivers into Defence regardless of the percentage of defence work undertaken. South Australia has a large proportion of SMEs within its defence ecosystem with many seeking to increase the proportion of work they deliver to defence. The skills and experience of our veteran community will provide significant advantages to businesses working in or seeking to work in the Defence sector.

The South Australian SME community is engaged in a variety of sectors ranging from Defence, Aerospace, Space, Resources, Agriculture, Medical, Automotive, Autonomous Vehicles, Precision and Advanced Manufacturing.

What kind of jobs are found
in the defence industry?

With the growth of Defence projects to be delivered over the next decade and beyond, Australia’s Defence Industry provides a vast number of rewarding and long term career opportunities.  These opportunities will exist within the large multi-national companies as well as within South Australian small and medium sized businesses. These small businesses form a vital part of the defence industry supply chain.

The Career opportunities within the defence industry cover a
broad spectrum of roles that include the following disciplins :

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Business & Management
  • Program Administrator
  • Project Administrator
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Contract Administrator
  • Commercial Officer
  • Commercial Manager
  • Purchasing Officer
  • Procurement Manager
  • Engineer
  • Engineering Manager
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Estimator
  • Production Manager
  • Product Quality Controller
  • Intelligence Analyst

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Trades
  • Boat Builder
  • Shipwright
  • Structural Steel and Welding Trades Worker
  • Sheet Metal Trades Worker
  • Metal Fitter and Machinist Electrician
  • Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic
  • Electronics Trades Worker Rigger
  • Carpenter and Joiner
  • Glazier
  • Painting Trades Worker
  • Motor Mechanic
  • Aircraft Maintenance Technician

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Operations
  • Crane Operator
  • Truck Driver
  • Trades Assistant
  • Commercial Cleaner
  • Store Person

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Information &
Communications Technology
  • Software and Applications Programmer
  • ICT Support Technician
  • ICT Security Specialist
  • ICT Systems Analyst
  • Communications Technician
  • Electronics Technician

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Design
  • Industrial Designer
  • Systems Designer
  • Architectural Draftsperson

The above provides examples of the main roles within the Defence Industry.
All job markets are however evolving, and new roles are constantly created.

Veterans and their value to industry

Veterans receive rigorous, high quality and broad ranging training while serving in the Australian Defence Force. The skills and experience of a veteran could be invaluable to a range of civilian roles.

The characteristics of a Veteran include, reliability, discipline, consistency, courage, motivation and skill.

Furthermore, veterans often exceed their abilities, are diligent in getting tasks completed and stay focused on safety.

If you are considering hiring a veteran, it is important to understand the transferable nature of the military skills and experience of veterans. Please see our section on roles on this website for more information.

If you are a veteran or have a veteran already working in your team speaking to them will help you understand how Veteran skills and experience can be transferred to the private sector and assist you with the recruitment and on boarding process of other veterans. A veteran can also:

  • Translate military terms or experiences in applications or resumes.
  • Ensure job advertisements do not unintentionally exclude veterans. For example, requiring “equivalent industry experience” may be misconstrued as needing experience in that particular field or industry.
  • Identify the best avenues to target the talent pool of veterans appropriate for your roles. Mentor and support the induction of new colleagues with military backgrounds.