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Combet outlines skills package for Defence Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

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THE HON. GREG COMBET MP Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement

Thursday, 4 December 2008 074/2008


Greg Combet, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement, today outlined $26 million of measures designed to help Defence Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) become more competitive and address the skills challenge.

“It is an extremely interesting time for Australian defence industry with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) replacing more than 80 percent of its warfighting assets over the next 10 to 15 years at a cost of some $100 billion,” Mr Combet said.

To help support the Defence industry meet the skills challenge it faces in pursuit of this work, the Rudd Government recently announced a $61 million investment in Defence Industry Skilling with SMEs set to benefit from over a third of that expenditure. The aim of the investment is to expand the pool of appropriately skilled people from which defence industry can recruit, enhance work and career pathways in defence industry and address specific skills gaps in defence industry.

These specific initiatives that target SMEs include an engineering scholarships program, the expansion of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) Institute to industry and the establishment of the Defence Industries Innovation Centre.

Defence Industry Innovation Centres

The Rudd Government will spend up to $21m on the Defence Industry Innovation Centres.

The Centres will build on the Rudd Government’s Enterprise Connect Network and will assist Defence SMEs to: • Help them understand their current business performance in the context of their competitor firms, whether in Australia or overseas;

• Work with firms to confirm their current strategy or to develop a new strategy and assist in implementing change; • Make sure that they can easily link to relevant parts of Australia's innovation infrastructure to source ideas and technology without red tape; • Provide ongoing encouragement to change and keep abreast of new


The initiative is specifically designed to lift productivity of Defence SMEs.

“Lifting productivity will increase the competitiveness of Defence SMEs and will help them compete against the international defence industry in both local contracts and in winning work in global supply chains” Mr Combet said.

Engineering Scholarships Program

Mr Combet also outlined a program of undergraduate engineering scholarships worth up to $2 million for students in engineering streams deemed in critical supply by defence industry.

The scholarships will support an industry placement component of study by providing financial support for engineering students to undertake a placement with a Defence SME. The package will also provide financial incentives for the defence industry SME hosting the student.

Up to 20 scholarships will be offered per year with the first being offered in 2010.

Expansion of the DMO Institute

The Rudd Government is also devoting up to $2.5 million to make the DMO Institute training programs available to the defence industry.

The DMO Institute is a partnership between the DMO and Deakin University to professionalise the DMO workforce and encourage life long learning.

The training programs that will be offered to industry are in the area of materiel logistics commencing next financial year.

“This initiative will allow participating staff from SMEs to improve their skills in this vital area making their companies more internationally competitive in the field of defence sustainment and maintenance,” Mr Combet said.

Mr Combet also congratulated Raytheon Australia on the development of its defence industry engagement plan which clearly identified the potential roles that SMEs have as capability partners, product suppliers and service providers.

“The Government is very committed to improving the relationship between defence prime contractors and SMEs to ensure that our Australian defence industry remains vibrant and internationally competitive,” said Mr Combet.

Mr Combet also spoke about other industry policy measures introduced by the Government to help SMEs. They include: • Australian Industry Capability Program to help SMEs access global supply chains • The Defence and Industry ePortal to help SMEs advertise their capabilities to the

large global defence companies; and the • Defence Export Unit to help SMEs facilitate export of their products.

Media contacts: Rod Hilton (Greg Combet): 02 6277 4771 or 0458 276 619 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664