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ASC’s highly skilled workforce is the foundation upon which its ongoing success is built. The organisation recognises that attracting, retaining and developing its best workforce, remains critical to continued improvement in performance and resulting success.

ASC’s strong performance on its submarine maintenance and shipbuilding programs was supported by its ongoing investment in a range of workforce development activities.

ASC’s total workforce is approximately 1,300 permanent employees across two sites; ASC North at Osborne in South Australia, and ASC West at Henderson in Western Australia. ASC also has employees at the STSC at Garden Island in Western Australia.

Following structural separation in December 2018, ASC Shipbuilding became a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia to deliver the Hunter Class Frigates. Separation of its business is responsible for the decrease in its employee numbers from 2400 to 1300 and now ASC Pty Ltd engages an ASC Shipbuilding workforce under contract, to successfully deliver ASC’s shipbuilding programs.

Professional Development

In 2018/19, ASC professional development activities included:

  • Inclusion of internal leadership program at ASC West;
  • Continuation of Apprentice and Graduate Programs;
  • Continuation of Project Management, Business Acumen and Earned Value Management e-learning across the submarine business, particularly for Control Account Managers;
  • Participation in Graduate Certificate in Marine Engineering for 31 students including graduations for three ASC West engineers;
  • Support of 11 staff for higher level qualifications through ASC Professional Development assistance; and
  • Emotional intelligence training for Engineering and Delivery employees.

Apprentices and Graduates

The 2018/19 ASC Apprentice Program was again, highly competitive. The program received 1404 applications, from which 14 positions were awarded, six in South Australia and eight in Western Australia, bringing the total number of apprentices employed to 53.

ASC has a completion rate of 93 per cent, compared with the projected national completion rate of 54.5 percent1.

ASC employed eight Engineers as part of its Graduate Program, five in South Australia and three in Western Australia. Graduates are placed in permanent positions for two years and gain experience and exposure to the business by being rotated though various departments every three to six months. Five graduates from ASC North took advantage of the opportunity to go on rotation in Western Australia for three to four months during this period.

Government Support to Workforce Development

In 2018/19, ASC received $414,634 from the South Australian Government’s Department of State Development. These funds provided valuable support which enabled ASC to further develop its former ASC Shipbuilding workforce capability through the following programs:

  • Contract Management for Ship Construction, Repair and Design;
  • Defence Industry Pathways Program;
  • ERG Specialist Training;
  • NACE Coating Inspection Program Levels; and
  • Resilience and leadership programs.

Workforce Planning

Workforce planning remains an active and continuous process in ASC’s business planning cycle. Immediate and up-to-date intelligence is used to model recruitment, retention and development measures synchronously and track the effectiveness of related turnover mitigations. This ensures ASC’s continued ability to maintain the skills and experience required to sustain CCSM through to end-of-life.

Aligned to AS5620:2015, ASC’s workforce planning model provides managers with a strategic basis for making human resource decisions, allowing them to:

  • Respond quickly and more strategically to change;
  • Improve efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of their teams;
  • Facilitate strategic staffing and planning for future workforce requirements;
  • Strengthen capability to support the achievement of business outputs now and into the future;
  • Better understand workforce profiles; and
  • Assist with the identification and management of people with the knowledge critical for effective and efficient business operations.

2018/19 has seen further competition for talent in South Australia, resulting from Defence programs running in parallel. Activities implemented to address these challenges included:

  • Integrating effective talent acquisition and retention systems;
  • Increasing and improving our levels of leadership capability;
  • Enhancing, measuring and promoting the strength of ASC’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP);
  • Developing technical training systems to support emerging workforce capability requirements;
  • Producing an international recruitment and capability plan to effectively mobilise international talent to support long lead times;
  • Improving human resource metrics;
  • Growing external capability partnerships;
  • Conducting workforce impact analysis for potential business scenarios;
  • Promoting diversity through talent management;
  • Supporting the direct development of women in our workforce; and
  • Supporting the Naval Shipbuilding College (NSC).

Activities completed under ASC’s former Shipbuilding Business, ASC Shipbuilding via the Shipbuilding Workforce Plan included:

  • Managing of the internal labour market movements;
  • Managing of the resource reduction programs;
  • Transferring of talent to other parts of ASC as part of labour reductions;
  • Seconding to the AWD Program in service contacts;
  • Maintaining connection with past talent through the ASC Alumni;
  • Promoting diversity through talent management;
  • Managing and growing the future talent with dedicated activities;
  • Providing of a transition centre to support exiting employees;
  • Supporting the establishment of a Naval Shipbuilding College;
  • Strengthening commercial and project related capability;
  • Developing leaders and their teams;
  • Providing for psychological wellbeing with resilience development programs;
  • Providing for cultural awareness to support our industry partners; and
  • Hosting of the AWD apprenticeship program.

Diversity and Inclusion

The ASC Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Program, All Aboard, was launched in 2016 and continued to make a positive contribution to the culture and environment at ASC. In 2018/19 ASC’s All Aboard Program focused on workplace behaviours, promoting flexible work opportunities and providing awareness and support for employees with carer responsibilities.

An Employee Opinion feedback survey was conducted in 2019 to gauge both overall engagement scores and to assess the progress and influence of the D&I program.

The survey results indicated:

  • The majority of respondents are satisfied with their job and are proud to work for ASC with 82 percent understanding how they personally contribute to the achievement of ASC’s goals;
  • 67 percent of employees surveyed agreed that ASC treats employees fairly regardless of their age, family/marital status, gender, disability, race/colour, religion or sexual orientation; and
  • 75 percent of employees surveyed believe they can maintain a reasonable balance between their personal life and work life.

The D&I All Aboard Council is comprised of representatives from both ASC North and West, with five new members joining during the reporting period.

Looking forward, the 2019/20 All Aboard Plan will focus on the following areas:

  • Gender diversity;
  • Diversity in the talent process; and
  • Leadership in D&I engagement.


  1. 1 Australian vocational education and training statistics, Completion and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees 2018, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Total trade occupations.