Lockheed Martin Australia extends Hunter STEMstart program, produces first apprentices

Lockheed Martin Australia apprentices Zachery Aislabie and Jessica Gear. Image: Lockheed Martin Australia

The first TAFE NSW Newcastle graduate apprenticeship and traineeship have been awarded as part of a program delivered by Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) and Regional Development Australia (RDA).

The STEMstart program began in 2018 to award grants to develop high-value, job-ready skills needed to create and sustain advanced technologies for the defence industry.

The extended program, which offers an additional grant of $30,000, will be divided between two initiatives.

STEMStart will be delivered in partnership with TAFE NSW Newcastle, and Altitude Accord will be conducted in partnership with University of Newcastle.

The two graduates were Jessica Gear, who started as an F-35 ALIS Integration, Maintenance and Administration Services trainee business administrator in January 2020, and Zackery Aislabie, who started as a TADRs apprentice in January 2019.

LMA CEO Joe North said the company was committed to working with industry and education providers in the region, and congratulated the two new apprentices.

“Lockheed Martin Australia is proud to be working with the RDA Hunter to raise the technology base in the Hunter region, which, as one of Australia’s largest regional economies and home to our country’s first squadron of F-35s, is critical to Australia’s economic interests and sovereign defence capability,” he said.

“We are pleased to be investing in a highly-skilled regional workforce through our partnerships with industry and STEM learning initiatives, and I hope more students in the Hunter region will be encouraged to take-up STEM-related subjects and go on to pursue careers in the defence industry.

“I would like to once again congratulate Jessica and Zachery on their selection as LMA’s newest apprentices, and I look forward to working with them as they progress their careers in support of Australia’s national interests.”

RDA Hunter chairman John Turner said the program extension would have a direct impact on students’ understanding of career opportunities in the region’s defence industry.

“As one of Australia’s largest regional economies, the Hunter has a vital role in ensuring a job-ready, highly skilled, high value workforce to support Australia’s advanced technologies of the future,” he said.

“And with the introduction of defence capabilities in support of the F- 35, we’ll see an increase in related jobs in the next five years.”

“Through our partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia, we are pleased to help prepare the region’s students for these exciting opportunities, and we are grateful to the University of Newcastle and TAFE NSW Newcastle for their continued support.

F-35 ALIS IMAS trainee business administrator Jessica Gear said she was excited about the opportunities the LMA apprenticeship would provide.

“Lockheed Martin Australia has been very welcoming and provided many opportunities to learn about different aspects of the business,” she said.

“I would love to find myself in a project management career, and I believe the skills I am learning at LMA and the online training I am receiving through HunterNet and the Australian College of Commerce Management TAFE will help me pursue that goal within the business.”

TADRs apprentice Zackery Aislabie said he looked forward to practical on-the-job training he at LMA in addition to studying Electronics and Communications through Tighes Hill TAFE.

“I desired a skill set that would allow me to pursue my general interest in science, but would also ensure job security, opportunity for growth and professional development and finally exposure to colleagues equally as passionate as myself,” he said.

“Over the past 12 months I have been exposed to cutting edge technology, learnt about a new industry, and more importantly I have been welcomed into a team of exceptional people all striving to do the best work possible.”