Appropriately skilled and experienced naval architects and design engineers/drafters are priority employment targets today for Australia’s naval shipbuilding companies.

Market analysis undertaken by the Naval Shipbuilding College (NSC), in collaboration with Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry, identified experienced designers/drafters in particular as a critical job priority. Naval architects and associated designers/drafters are responsible for the creation of the highly sophisticated 3D designs, product models and schematics, required to design, build and sustain the Royal Australian Navy’s new submarines and warships.

NSC Chief Executive Ian Irving said the Federal Government’s $90bn National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise provides an unparalleled career opportunity for naval architects and maritime designers/drafters in this country.

“The opportunity to work on the world’s most technologically advanced projects, contributing to the design of some of the most sophisticated machines that are being creating anywhere in the world, and to be able to do this here in Australia, is very appealing to a potential workforce,” he said. “Naval architects and designers will be at the very heart of creating Australia’s new fleet. These are very important and coveted jobs that are in demand across the world today.”

The spearhead of Australia’s new fleet will include 12 Attack Class Submarines, 9 Hunter Class Frigates and 12 Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels. Irving said the Government’s commitment to establish a sovereign shipbuilding capability means that naval shipbuilding is now a standout career of choice for many Australians, providing meaningful employment and ongoing career opportunities for the current workforce and future generations.

“With the emergence of the digital shipyard, next-generation maritime technologies, and the rapidly evolving Industry 4.0 transformation taking place in shipbuilding, workers who gain experience and expertise in these areas will quickly be considered among the leaders in their field, providing opportunities for a life-long career,” he said. “They will be able to write their own ticket for their futures.

“Naval shipbuilding offers new opportunities that are not widely available across other industry sectors. That’s because we’re dealing with highly complex first-principles designs, on largely bespoke first-of-class solutions. It’s incredibly exciting work for our naval architects and designers.

“More broadly there will be thousands of jobs available within the wider Enterprise across Australia, providing rewarding and meaningful employment, with wide ranging career options including technical trades and professional roles.

“The College is focussed on helping industry realise their workforce goals and assisting Australians to secure their desired education and training qualifications to put them in a position to meet their employment goals through the Workforce Register, which is free to join. More than 2,000 candidates have already joined the Workforce Register and thousands more are expected to register in the months and years ahead.

“From experienced workers looking to upskill themselves or transition from other industry sectors, to secondary school students seeking advice on their technical learning and subjects they should study, we are helping them identify the next steps in their education or career pathways that can lead to a job within the Enterprise.”

A job for life in a booming industry

The lure of working with world-leading technology, in a booming industry that also offers long-term job security, was irresistible for new ASC designer and drafter, Richie Van Bochove.

After completing a four-year apprenticeship and then an advanced diploma (part-time over six years) with TAFE SA, Van Bochove quickly advanced to the role of Chief Mechanical Designer in the transport industry. When submarine builder ASC began advertising for designers and drafters, Van Bochove didn’t hesitate to apply.

“I had enjoyed my role with my previous employer and they were disappointed that I was moving on, but the opportunity to join the naval shipbuilding industry was too good to resist,” he said. “Naval shipbuilding is a booming industry and when I kept hearing about the contracts being signed by the Government, I knew this would be a job for life. There is a lot of work going on right now and it’s just going to keep growing.

“As far as I am concerned naval shipbuilding is the future for people in my line of work.”

The computer programs and technology used to work on the Collins Class Submarine sustainment are extremely advanced to cope with the tens of thousands of different parts that make up a modern submarine.

“Working with these programs everyday is improving my skill set and something I will keep for life,” said Van Bochove. “The opportunity to learn and work with these programs is unique within the defence industry. If people want to work with the best technology in the world, this is where they have to be.”

According to Van Bochove, the job requires constant attention-to-detail, which helps with the development of advanced skills and an understanding of best-practice design techniques.

“It was a little daunting after I finished school to navigate my tertiary education pathway, but I found my way through eventually,” he said. “If the NSC’s Workforce Register was around when I was trying to work out the best study and training options for me, I would have joined up in a flash.

“I think it provides a big advantage for people who want to get into the defence industry, either right now or down the track. For me, I’m really looking forward to new opportunities at work and just being a part of this evolving industry.”