Defence STEM strategy sees industry as key partner

In launching its science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) strategy, the Department of Defence identified industry as a key partner.

Presented as part of National Science Week, the STEM Workforce Strategic Vision 2019-2030 outlines how defence will meet the challenges of the future and maintain its position within a changing strategic environment.

During the launch, chief defence scientist, Professor Tanya Monro, highlighted that Defence will work with industry and educational institutions to ensure the future workforce will have the skills needed for Australia’s national security.

“These are the careers of the future and competition for people with these qualifications is fierce — it is estimated that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations in the world today require people with STEM skills,” said Monro.

Other recent announcements have demonstrated the need for a highly skilled STEM workforce for defence. For example, Defence is developing a high-performance computing system, which allow for coding at speeds thousands of times faster than currently. The computer could be used for modelling and simulating the travel of hypersonic objects, or analysing data from modern weapons systems which can comprise petabytes of data.

“If Defence is to develop a high-tech force, it needs a larger and more specialised STEM workforce of both uniformed and civilian personnel.

“It also needs a continuous and reliable pipeline of graduates with STEM backgrounds to attract and retain the best and the brightest in their fields,” said Monro.

To achieve this, Defence will expand its STEM cadetship program from 50 to 200 cadets.

“We don’t have as many Australian students taking STEM subjects as we need for those jobs of the future.

“Until our STEM workforce represents our society as a whole, we won’t be doing the best work we can – we need to harness the talents of all,” said Monro.