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TAFE NSW partners with University to address defence skills shortages

TAFE NSW Newcastle

TAFE NSW partners with University to address defence skills shortages

TAFE NSW is helping the defence industry keep up with future workforce demands through a collaborative aviation program with the University of Newcastle. 

Students from the University of Newcastle are working towards a Certificate II in Aeroskills through TAFE NSW as part of the program - building an aircraft and learning to remove, install, inspect and test various systems and mechanical components.

It comes as Australia’s defence strategy is set to be overhauled following a major review – which highlighted skills shortages as a key challenge to national security. 

BAE Systems Australia has recently welcomed its largest group of Aerospace apprentices and first cohort of aircraft engineers, in response to the Royal Australia Air Force’s growing F-35 fleet and the Hawk Lead-In Fighter training aircraft.

BAE Systems Senior Training Coordinator Roland Ford says recruiting skilled workers is critical for the development of Australia’s Aerospace industry.

“Our collaboration with TAFE NSW is a key part of our plans to grow a future aviation workforce, that will sustain the Hawk and F35 fleets,” he said.

“This program between TAFE NSW and the University of Newcastle represents a promising future in this training space.”

Holly Nicholas is completing a Cert II in Aeroskills through the program, while studying at the University. She says it is a unique learning experience.

“My instructors at TAFE NSW have all had so much industry experience that I’m able to see them approach these processes and the challenges that can arise in real time, on a real aircraft,” she said. 

 “The professional connections I am making through the partnership with TAFE are invaluable. It means I am one step ahead when it comes to finding employment as I’ll have already developed some great relationships.”

Professor of Aerospace Systems at the University of Newcastle Gabriel Lodewijks says the program with TAFE NSW provides his students with essential hands-on training.

“It’s vital our students gain this practical experience before they work in the industry,” he said. 

“The feedback on this program has been incredible – the students are learning so much and absolutely thriving. While this is a pilot program, we are very interested in pursuing more collaborative learning opportunities in the future.”

BAE Systems is a defence and security company. Their core capabilities include providing the design, manufacture, upgrade and support services to the Australian Defence Force, cyber intelligence and commercial organisations.

For more information about studying at TAFE NSW, visit or phone 131 601.

Media contact: Lauren McAllister, Communications Specialist,, 02 7920 5000