Australia’s first digital shipbuilding course launches

A total of 53 shipbuilding workers, whose roles on the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer Program have ended, will take part in a digital up-skilling program funded by the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments.

The newly created Diploma of Digital Technology will educate shipbuilders-come-students on digital technologies required as part of the $35 billion Hunter Class Frigate Program, and will help retain important shipbuilding capability between shipbuilding programs.


Jaryd and Tony will undertake the new Diploma of Digital Technologies at Flinders University.

During the course, students will combine theoretical approaches to Industry 4.0 technology with hands-on experience to prepare them for work at the state-of-the-art Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, one of the world’s most technologically advanced shipyards.

Fifty four year old Grange resident Tony will undertake the new course after nearly 15 years working at the Osborne shipyard.

“My wife Kerry also works in the shipyard – she is the barista at the canteen – we actually met at work when we were both at ASC North about 12 years ago. I started on the AWD program in September 2010.

“The opportunity to upskill while maintaining my company service is very appealing. I look forward to applying these qualifications in a practical way, enhancing the capability of the ‘new’ shipyard.”

Despite COVID-19 presenting extreme challenges across Australia and the world, Flinders University is using innovative means to ensure the course can be delivered online, which means students can conduct their learning at home.

When day-to-day life resumes some normality, students will be able to attend classes at Flinders University located at the Tonsley Innovation District.

Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says Flinders University is  delighted to once again be partnering with ASC Shipbuilding to apply research and teaching expertise across digital systems and industrial transformation and to further equip these and many other highly skilled workers to meet the current and emerging needs of the defence industry.

“Flinders University is committed to collaborating with our national and international partners to achieve practical, industry-aligned research and education solutions that build the capabilities, productivity and expertise of their workforce as well as contribute to broader economic benefits.”

ASC Shipbuilding Managing Director, Craig Lockhart, says the face of modern shipbuilding is changing and the Diploma of Digital Technology will enable current shipbuilders to keep pace with the latest trends while ensuring they are equipped for the future.

“Not only does this course equip our employees with the skills that will be in demand at our digital shipyard at Osborne, but it guarantees we retain the shipbuilding skills between the end of the current shipbuilding programs and the ramp up of the Hunter program.

“Our partnership with Flinders University means we will upskill shipbuilders on the latest in Industry 4.0 technologies and techniques, benefiting not only the Hunter Class Frigate Program but the broader shipbuilding industry. Flinders has responded very well to the COVID-19 situation and converted most of the tuition to on-line which is embracing the new technologies that we will require in a modern data-rich shipyard.

“We hope the employees pioneering this diploma are just the first who embark on this course which will ultimately develop the shipbuilders of tomorrow, today.”

Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, says government’s $90 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan is creating thousands of jobs in South Australia with the workforce expected to grow from 2,500 workers today to more than 6,300 by 2030.

“The Air Warfare Destroyer program represents the foundation of continuous shipbuilding in Australia.

“This is why Defence, in partnership with ASC Shipbuilding, Flinders University, TAFE SA and the Naval Shipbuilding College, are progressing a training program for a Diploma in Digital Technologies which will retain the skills and expertise needed for the Hunter Class Frigate program.

“As we build the world’s most advanced digital shipyards in South Australia, this Government is focused on fostering an innovative and world‑class Australian workforce that will continue for generations to come.”

Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, says the project is receiving $2 million from the government as part of a project to enhance collaboration between universities and business that will lead to new jobs, business opportunities and productivity gains.

“These courses are a timely reminder that as Australia deals with the challenge of COVID-19 there are still job opportunities and a demand for graduates with job-ready skills.

“These courses strengthen the link between our universities and the businesses that employ graduates.

“The skills that participants will develop will support continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia, and will be a boon to the graduates in terms of their future employability.

“The Government has a clear goal to encourage greater collaboration between universities and businesses on research innovation and workforce preparation.”

Course orientation commences on 30 March, and the course itself will run from April 2020 until January 2021.

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