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Driving forward on jobs


SAAB Australia graduate engineer Megan Franzon with managing director Andy Keough. Picture: Russell Millard/The Advertiser

Courtesy of the Advertiser.


There’s a big future out there for smart hi-tech companies willing to plan ahead and make sure they have the resources to succeed, says Defence, Aerospace, IT and Cyber Security Industry Skills Council (ISC) chair Andy Keough.


Keough, who is also managing director of SAAB Australia, based at Mawson Lakes, says there is significant growth projected in advanced manufacturing across the state in defence and technology.


“We have a lot of innovative companies in South Australia and they are all looking for highly-skilled capable people,” he says. “Industry 4.0 is the title they use for the next generation, the next revolution in industry. It’s going to be around this digital design through to production, manufacturing and service.”


To keep an eye on that future and the skills and training needs it generates, ISCs covering all areas of industry work with industry representatives, the overarching Training and Skills Commission and the State Government “ISCs were set up as a way...to ensure...it’s a two-way flow of information,” Keough says.


“We’ve got representatives from the Naval Shipbuilding College and some of the biggest defence companies as well (on the Defence ISC). They are able to provide a picture of what’s happening in the sector – if there’s supply shortages of various staff.”


He says skills needs, now and for the future, is something every business should be

tracking. The Naval Shipbuilding College works in the defence sector on future skill requirements and ensuring the education system is delivering people with the right skills.


At SAAB Australia, the company has its own intern and graduate programs to foster its supply of talented workers. University students who have almost finished their degrees can take part in the intern work experience program. “Based on that you can select them for the graduate program where they come in full-time and finish their degrees and then we ideally like to move them around the organisation...over the next two years,” says Keough. “Everyone’s after the best talent...it’s incredible the talent you see coming through.”


He says the sector is already informing and, in some cases, delivering some educational content into both universities and the vocational education space, including TAFEs.


“Some organisations, particularly those who deal with trades, such as ASC...have been working for several years to make sure the students coming through have the best training background,” he says.


The managing director, who also sits on the SACE Board, the Australian Industry Group and co-chairs the University of Adelaide Defence Advisory Board, says while the sector has well-skilled people coming through, the challenge will be to increase the supply of skilled people as demand increases in the next few years.


“It’s a wonderful time and despite challenges in recruiting and finding the best people out there, it’s a great problem to have,” he says.


As to reversing the state’s brain drain: “I think to some degree it’s helpful that people coming out of university do go interstate and explore. The great opportunity is for them to be able to come back to South Australia and have successful, enriching careers...to have broad exciting opportunities here to tap into when they come home.”


He adds that the advanced technology sector is underpinned by information technology and cyber security. He says a “digital thread” runs through modern supply chains from design, to manufacture, to use and maintenance. “Accompanying that is the cyber threat or challenge,” Keough says, making skilled staff who can protect business systems and ensure their integrity, critical to the future.


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