Release type: Joint Media Release


New investment in skills paves the way for AUKUS workforce


The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education
The Hon Richard Marles MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Defence
The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training
The Hon Pat Conroy MP
Minister for Defence Industry
Minister for International Development and the Pacific

The Albanese Government’s Budget invests nearly $150 million to start delivering the skills and workforce we need to deliver Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program through AUKUS.

The AUKUS plan for Australia to acquire and manufacture nuclear-powered submarines will create around 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years across industry, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Public Service. 

The biggest challenge Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program faces right now is to develop the skills and workforce needed to build this sovereign capability here in Australia. 

The Government is committed to providing the skills and training for a home-grown workforce to build and maintain Australian nuclear-powered submarines. The 2023-24 Budget delivers on this promise. 

Starting this year, the Government’s package for AUKUS skills and training will see:

$128.5 million over four years to fund an additional 4,000 university places and for the Department of Education

  • These places will be targeted at STEM disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science, naval architecture, computer science, as well as mechanical, electrical, chemical and nuclear engineering.
  • This includes the 800 places at South Australian universities announced in the Cooperation Agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia.
  • It will also enable the Department of Education to support the nuclear-powered submarine program through international engagement advice and research.

$3.9 million over two years to establish the skills taskforce within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations

  • Working with industry, tertiary education sector leaders, unions, State and Territory Governments and across the Commonwealth to plan and build the skilled workforce needed for Australia’s future.

$11.4 million over three years to extend the Defence Industry Pathways Program within the Western Australian shipbuilding sector

  • The extension of this program will continue the pipeline of skills and talent into the Defence shipbuilding industry, providing a key pathway to gain essential skills that will be required by Australia’s defence industry into the future. 

We will also develop the AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy. Working hand-in-glove with the South Australian Government, together we will co-design a Skills and Training Academy to deliver tailored education, training and skilling for the submarine and naval shipbuilding workforce in South Australia.

To match the investment in Australian industry, we must also invest in the workforce and skills which will deliver this ambitious program. 

Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program will be the most transformative industrial endeavour in our history – exceeding in scale, complexity, and economic significance the creation of an Australian automotive manufacturing sector and the construction of the Snowy Hydro Scheme.

Developing a pipeline of highly skilled STEM graduates and a talented skilled workforce will build Australia’s sovereign industry capabilities, playing a crucial role in delivering on our AUKUS commitments, and strengthening national security.

Quotes attributable to the Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles:  

“The Albanese Government understands that front and centre of the success of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will be the many thousands of Australians who help build them.

“We need to start investing in those skills now – this is a project which starts this year and will span decades with enormous opportunities.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Education, Jason Clare:

“These extra 4,000 places are in addition to the existing 20,000 more Commonwealth Supported Places already funded by the Australian Government to address skills shortages in areas of national priority.

“This funding commitment will ensure more Australians have the opportunity to go to uni and develop the advance technical skills needed to work on these nation-changing projects.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor: 

“This taskforce will play a vital role in advising how the vocational skills and training sector can be geared up to support this new workforce. 

“It’s important we work in lock-step with industry, tertiary education sector leaders, unions, State and Territory Governments to plan and build the skilled workforce needed for Australia’s future.” 

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy: 

“The AUKUS submarine program will be the most transformative industrial endeavour in Australian history.

“Young Australians starting training now have a bright future ahead of them with secure high skilled, well paid jobs that will make an important contribution to Australia’s defence industry and our national security.”