The Naval Shipbuilding Plan has been released, outlining how the Australian government expects to deliver $89 billion worth of ships over the next few decades.
According to the report, there will need to be $1.3 billion worth of upgrades to shipyards in South and Western Australia, which will be funded through taxpayers.
It is also estimated that SA shipbuilders will need an extra 3600 employees by 2020, and by 2026 this number will increase to more than 5200. However, the plan has stated that there will be “significant challenges” in finding enough skilled workers to fill these positions.
According to the plan, foreign workers will be essential to fill middle management and supervisory roles.
Australia has not had a continuous shipbuilding plan, Defence Teaming Centre chief executive Margot Foster told the ABC.
Therefore, “What we have suffered from is coming into these programs, learning the skills, delivering quality products and then having to dismantle the workforce because there isn’t a follow-on project.”
The plan has assured that “over time the number of skilled workers from international shipyards will decline as the Australian workforce becomes familiar with construction requirements and develops more specialised skills”.
A public communications strategy will also be put into place to attract inter-state workers to SA, according to the plan.