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SEARCH AND EMPLOY
Campaign to find
destroyer workers

By PAUL STARICK
17may06
ADELAIDE-based ASC will extend a long-term recruiting campaign for 1000 shipbuilding jobs into schools in a bid to combat a national skills shortage.

Awarded a $6 billion air warfare destroyer contract in May last year, ASC is already starting a national hunt for 200 workers for the project's design and planning phase.

A further 800 workers, including project managers, boilermakers and welders, will be required before construction of the three ships starts in 2009.

ASC shipbuilding chief executive officer John Gallacher yesterday said the company and its contract partners would target schools, universities and vocational colleges across the country to promote long-term careers in high-end manufacturing.

"One of the things we see is a need to attract people to the industry," Mr Gallacher said. "It's not just going out and offering people a job. We think, in schools, that teachers, students and even the parents need to understand it's an attractive career."

A national skills shortage meant the shipbuilders would be battling mining and resources firms for workers.

"There's definitely a shortage of skills across the country. It will have an impact on us," Mr Gallacher said.

"That's why we're keen to go out and recruit and train and upskill people."

Mr Gallacher said some overseas recruitment would be conducted to replace staff diverted from ASC's submarine arm to the shipbuilding project.

ASC, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, beat Victorian-based shipbuilder Tenix for the contract to build three hi-tech air warfare destroyers for the navy, the first to be delivered in 2013.

The State Government is injecting more than $140 million into a shipbuilding precinct, near ASC's Outer Harbor headquarters, which include a maritime skills training centre.

Premier Mike Rann announced plans for the centre in February last year.

The construction of this new infrastructure is expected to create contracting jobs. Mr Gallacher said ASC was meshing with State Government efforts to boost South Australia's population, including the Adelaide - Make The Move campaign targeting interstate migration.

ASC employs 1050 workers, including 140 in WA.

A Business SA study released this month found an acute shortage of skilled staff in SA was becoming a huge hurdle to business growth, confirming a national trend. More than 40 per cent of businesses identified the lack of skilled tradespeople as a problem. A third of respondents said they were worried by a shortage of white-collar, or professional, staff.

Mr Gallacher said ASC intended to capitalise on advantages, including Adelaide's attractiveness as a place for long-term careers.

He said a project stretching until at least 2017, based in a capital city, was more likely to be attractive than a two-year mining contract job. "If there's a skills shortage, some people will go to the bush (for mining projects) and earn more money," Mr Gallacher said.

"We think there's a lot of people who will see a career in Adelaide."

The project's long lead time would allow the company to hire people with basic skills, then train them for specific tasks on the air warfare destroyer project.

The project's design phase, during which two ship designs will be evaluated, runs until a Federal Government project approval expected next year.

The 200 workers required for this phase include project managers, production planners and designers.
 

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Unis, defence pact to fill skills shortage
By PAUL STARICK
01jun06
ADELAIDE'S defence companies today will sign agreements with three universities to make training more relevant in a bid to stem skills shortages.

Defence firms including ASC, BAE Systems and Tenix are among those involved in the agreements with the universities - Flinders, UniSA and Adelaide. Increasing their bargaining power by banding together, the companies hope to help universities better design courses to produce graduates equipped for work in the burgeoning industry. The State Defence Sector Plan, announced in March last year, outlines plans to double SA's $1 billion defence industry and boost job numbers from 16,000 to 28,000.

Organised by peak industry body the Defence Teaming Centre, the agreements with universities are designed to fill more of these jobs from South Australia.

ASC is already hunting across Australia for skilled workers after last year winning a $6 billion contract to build three air warfare destroyers for the navy. "The third air warfare destroyer will be built by children who are in Year Two at the moment," said Defence Teaming Centre strategic collaboration adviser Frank Wyatt.

"So, what we've got to do, is make sure we get . . . students undertaking maths and science and, therefore, going into university courses and make sure they have the skills to build the ship."

One project, already starting across the three universities, involves research into a body patch for fighter pilots with an inbuilt sensor to determine if they are under significant stress.

If they are, computers could be activated to change the aircraft's course or alert the pilot.

This involves cross-university research in disciplines including engineering, IT and psychology.

UniSA pro vice chancellor for IT, engineering and the environment, Professor Robin King, said the agreements would "ensure defence personnel have seamless transition into UniSA programs which meet their career needs".
 

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Ship skills flowing into state
PAUL STARICK
15jun06
THE influx of skilled workers into the state for the $6 billion air warfare destroyer contract has started as ship design begins.

In a reverse brain drain, naval architects, engineers and logistics support specialists have moved to Adelaide to work for Gibbs & Cox Australia, which is preparing the ships' evolved design.

At least 50 highly skilled workers are being employed by the company, with a total of between 100 and 200 expected long term.

Gibbs & Cox Australia managing director Peter Croser said about 15 per cent of the new workers were expatriate South Australians returning home, while many other Australians were returning from overseas jobs.

"We're bringing a talent pool back to Australia, which is specific and highly capable," he said.

Mr Croser, the company's first employee, is a former Adelaide company chief and engineer, who returned here in February to start hiring workers.

The company's United States parent has been the designer of every US naval destroyer, bar one class, since 1933.

Gibbs & Cox Australia will produce one of two competing designs for the destroyers, based partly on a U.S. destroyer.

It is competing against Spanish firm Navantia, which is producing an "Australianised" version of an existing warship.

Recruitment of workers for the destroyer program is being complicated by global skills shortages, with Adelaide-based ASC having already started a national hunt for 200 workers for the design and planning phase.

ASC, which last year won the contract to build the three destroyers for the navy, is even extending its campaign into schools and tertiary institutions.

Gibbs & Cox ship design manager Joe Stratton came from Washington DC, where he worked for the parent company.

"It's rare in my career that you get to go from a concept idea focus and be allowed to continue on through more detailed design work," he said.

Mechanical engineer Neil Vaughan spent more than two years in the U.S. working on ship design for General Dynamics, shortly before returning to Australia.

He said he had moved to Adelaide for "the technical challenge" of helping produce a highly complex ship design
 
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