AUKUS submarine workforce and industry strategy

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

Anthony Albanese MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Ministerial contact

Prime Minister's Office - 02 6277 7744 -

The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

Media contact

02 6277 7800

The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Media contact

02 6277 7840

Defence Media

Release content

14 March 2023


The Albanese Government is developing a comprehensive AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy to support delivery of advanced conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian Defence Force.

The AUKUS submarine program will be the most transformative industrial endeavour in Australian history – exceeding in scale, complexity and economic significance the creation of an Australian automotive manufacturing sector and the construction of the Snowy Scheme in the post-war decades.

Australia’s industrial base will be just the second in history to be granted access to highly sensitive US nuclear propulsion capability and afforded the ability to access, handle, build and sustain this sensitive technology.

The program will create around 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years across industry, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Public Service including trades workers, operators, technicians, engineers, scientists, submariners and project managers.

At its peak, building and sustaining nuclear-powered submarines in Australia will create up to 8,500 direct jobs in the industrial workforce.

With hundreds of thousands of components, nuclear-powered submarines will present a unique opportunity for Australian companies to contribute not only to the construction and sustainment of Australia’s new fleet but to the supply chains of partner nations.

Australia’s scientific, education and training institutions will also play a central role.

Australians have already commenced training and working on UK and US nuclear-powered submarines and in UK and US facilities.

Between 2027 to 2032, an additional 500 direct jobs are expected to be created to sustain the Submarine Rotational Force-West US and UK presence in Western Australia.

This will mean Australia has a trained and experienced sovereign workforce for the arrival of Australia’s Virginia class submarines from as soon as the early 2030s.

At its peak, up to an estimated 4,000 Australian workers will be employed to design and build the infrastructure for the new submarine construction yard in South Australia.

A further 4,000 to 5,500 direct jobs will be created to build the nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia when the program reaches its peak in 20 to 30 years, almost double the workforce the former Government forecast for the Attack class program.

To support delivery of the submarine program, the Government has commenced developing the AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy to:

  • Attract, recruit, develop, qualify and retain a highly-skilled trades, technical, scientific and engineering workforce.
  • Invest in new infrastructure for sustaining and building nuclear-powered submarines in Australia.
  • Support and build the capabilities of Australia’s world-leading defence industry.

This will involve working closely with state and territory governments, industry, unions, education and training institutions and the scientific and technical sectors.

We understand this is a whole of nation effort – as such, the Prime Minister will be putting this on the agenda for the next National Cabinet to ensure all jurisdictions can access the workforce and industry opportunities.

Key elements of the Strategy the Government is planning include:


  • New sustainment infrastructure in Western Australia at HMAS Stirling including wharf upgrades, warehousing and sustainment facilities.
  • New submarine construction infrastructure in South Australia at the Osborne shipbuilding precinct, including site identification and design, land transfer discussions, civil works and prototype facilities.
  • National engineering and technology facilities.


  • Australian submarine industrial workforce planning including forecasting workforce demand and supply, identifying priority skills areas, identifying education and training requirements and finalising a workforce strategy.
  • Working with the South Australian Government on a dedicated Skills and Training Academy to deliver tailored education, training and skilling for Australia’s submarine and naval shipbuilding workforce including:    
    • Career training programs to bring new people into the workforce, such as apprentices, undergraduates and graduate apprentices.            
    • Lifting the skills of the existing naval shipbuilding workforce.                                                                                                                                                             
    • Transition programs to bring in people from adjacent industries in the defence, manufacturing and technology sectors.
  • Working with the Western Australian Government to develop a skills and training program, leveraging existing relationships with WA vocational and tertiary institutions.
  • Early opportunities to embed industrial, Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service personnel in UK and US facilities and shipyards.
  • New education and training courses including:
    • Expanding the Sovereign Shipbuilding Talent Pool (SSTP), commencing with an initial cohort of 74 apprentices, undergraduates and graduates in coming months. 
    • Developing nation-wide education and skilling plans with the university and vocational education sectors.
    • Supporting an existing cohort of over 50 Australians to commence new specialised courses in the UK and US and new tertiary courses for nuclear engineering at the University of New South Wales and nuclear science at the Australian National University.


  • Developing opportunities for Australian industry to carry out maintenance for US Virginia class and UK Astute class submarines during their rotational presence in Western Australia.
  • Opportunities to embed Australian industry in the UK and US nuclear-powered submarine construction and sustainment programs and supply chains with our partners, including Australian industry supplying Australian-manufactured materials and components to the UK and US submarine programs.
  • Establishing mechanisms for Australian industry to register interest in participating in the Australian, UK and US nuclear-powered submarine programs.

The AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy will be finalised and implemented in consultation with our trilateral partners and state and territory governments, industry and unions.

It will complement the Albanese Government’s wider agenda to revitalise Australian manufacturing, ensuring we are a country that makes things – including identifying defence capability as a priority funding area for the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

Australia’s defence industry and workforce will be vital partners in the AUKUS submarine program over the next four decades and beyond – delivering a critical defence capability and supporting an industrial and skills expansion of national economic significance.

Other related releases