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Recruitment activities

Defence must grow and reshape the workforce to meet new capability requirements, particularly in areas such as intelligence, cyber, engineering and specialist skills to enable the national shipbuilding enterprise.

Targeted recruitment and retention efforts are ongoing in relation to a number of engineering, science, health, naval (such as submariners) and intelligence related occupations.

The following recruitment-related activities were progressed in 2019–20:

  • Strategies for recruitment of Army women and a plan for recruiting into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles have been released and are being implemented.
  • Additional marketing material was launched to capitalise on the success of the existing Army brand campaign and overcome some perceived barriers to people, especially women and specifically mothers, contemplating an Army career.
  • A submariner competition was conducted in February 2020 to encourage potential candidates to consider a career as a submariner in the Navy. Winners were invited to HMAS Stirling to board a submarine and experience life as a submariner.
  • The Female Initial Training Preparation (FIT Prep) program, previously the Army Preconditioning Program, was refined to better prepare women for commencement and successful completion of initial military training.
  • Tours of Navy ships and establishments were conducted, including Navy-oriented information sessions to familiarise potential applicants with Navy opportunities.
  • Flexibility in the Navy intake timing process was introduced to adjust for late-notice recruiting.
  • Defence partnered with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, through Questacon, to develop the ‘Engineering is Elementary’ program. This program engages and equips Australian teachers with the confidence, skills and capability necessary to cultivate Australia’s next generation of engineers and innovators.
  • The STEM Cadetship Program has been expanded and now includes 35 APS Cadets within the Defence Science and Technology Group.

As a result of these activities, ADF recruitment to the permanent workforce increased to 6,277 in 2019–20, compared to 5,717 enlistments in 2018–19. This was 93 per cent of the 2019–20 target of 6,681. Recruitment to the Reserves was 1,419 in 2019–20, which was 79 per cent of the target of 1,804. In 2018–19, the number of ADF permanent force enlistments was 92 per cent of the target of 6,226, and for the Reserve force was 85 per cent of the full-year target of 1,903.

Defence has reformed its approach to APS recruitment with the introduction of a case management model to streamline the recruitment process.

The case management model gives supervisors and managers a single point of contact to provide support throughout the recruitment process, and streamlines administration and processing time. Recruitment advisors work with recruitment system and process experts to develop strategies and innovative approaches that better target critical segments of the labour market.

Digital enhancements to the recruitment system enable key recruitment decisions to be recorded directly into the system, reducing processing times.

The competition for talent has motivated new approaches to recruitment, including to advertising and candidate assessment. Reshaping position descriptions to be meaningful for candidates and using social media for specialist recruitment campaigns is resulting in larger candidate pools. Flexible approaches to recruitment, including greater use of technology for interviews and assessment, enabled Defence to continue to conduct recruitment processes throughout the bushfire and COVID-19 challenges.

Defence has changed the way it manages its Temporary Employment Register, ensuring that when required it will have a talent pool with job-ready people. The introduction of increased candidate screening processes via occupational testing, online interviews and reference checks will ensure increased visibility of available talent.

Throughout the COVID-19 challenge Defence has continued to recruit to the ADF to ensure that force generation requirements are not affected. Using innovative recruitment measures, including online testing and virtualised interviews, Defence Force Recruiting processed 13,077 applicants between 14 April and 23 June, an increase of 5,030 from the same period last financial year.

Women in STEM

This is a photo of Defence Science and Technology Group researcher Joyce Mau setting up the new single photon avalanche diode camera for low light and 3D imaging in the testing tunnel at Defence Science and Technology's Edinburgh facility.
Defence Science and Technology Group researcher Joyce Mau setting up the new single photon avalanche diode camera for low light and 3D imaging in the testing tunnel at Defence Science and Technology's Edinburgh facility.
At a time when 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations require science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and knowledge, women make up only 16 per cent of the STEM-skilled workforce in Australia. Defence is committed to increasing the representation of women in STEM roles as part of building a world-leading technology-enabled workforce capable of meeting the challenges of the future.

Defence has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to gender equity by becoming a Women in STEM Decadal Plan Champion, joining 29 other eminent institutions in Australia. The Women in STEM Decadal Plan is a unique whole-of-industry strategy to achieve real and sustained change. The key objectives of the plan are adopted in Defence’s Moving Towards a High-Tech Future for Defence: Workforce Strategic Vision Underpinned by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics 2019–2030.

In February 2020, Defence partnered with the Australian Academy of Science to sponsor the inaugural Catalysing Gender Equity Conference. The conference highlighted practical ways to achieve the shared industry vision of the Women in STEM Decadal Plan. Defence showcased its key gender equity initiatives in an ‘equity action gallery’. These activities include Jasper, the
Air Force engagement program encouraging girls to pursue STEM at school; the Future through Collaboration Mentoring Program for women in defence industry; and the Defence Undergraduate STEM Cadetship Program. The Chief Defence Scientist participated in a panel discussion on how leaders can step up to drive system-wide change in STEM. More than 30 Defence members attended, along with more than 400 delegates from across the science and technology ecosystem.

In recognition of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Defence Science and Technology Group was awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Award accreditation by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) in early 2020. As a nationwide equity and diversity evaluation and accreditation program, SAGE aims to promote gender equity in STEM. The Bronze certification recognises that an institution has demonstrated a good understanding of the current status of gender equity and is positioned well to implement interventions to address inequities. Defence has committed to 72 actions over the next four years under the SAGE Action Plan 2019–2023.

Defence Graduate Program

The Defence Graduate Program continues to deliver vital people capability to address Defence workforce challenges and to meet the emerging needs of the organisation. Graduates are recruited across 14 career streams, including STEM, intelligence and corporate disciplines to support the delivery of key organisational priorities. These priorities include naval shipbuilding, space-based capability and cybersecurity. In 2019–20, 251 graduates commenced the program, representing 13 per cent of the total ongoing APS workforce recruited to Defence. Approximately 37 per cent of those graduates were recruited to STEM-specific career streams within Defence, which remains a key priority for the portfolio.

Defence STEM Cadetship Program

The Defence STEM Cadetship Program provides an entry-level employment pathway for high-performing university students studying a relevant STEM degree. The program addresses the Department’s future STEM workforce needs by providing a diverse workforce to deliver key scientific and technical priorities. In 2019–20, 66 new STEM Cadets commenced the program, representing a 42 per cent increase from 2018–19 participant numbers. Including ongoing participants, there are a total of 87 STEM Cadets participating in 2020.

This is a photo of Defence recruiter Sergeant Alex John speaking to a candidate as part of Defence Force Recruiting’s new virtual YOU sessions.
Defence recruiter Sergeant Alex John speaks to a candidate as part of Defence Force Recruiting’s new virtual YOU sessions.