In 2013 Australia was planning a sizable naval construction programme spanning 20-30 years to include a new class of submarine and a variety of surface ships. To help formulate a strategy on how to deliver the vessels in the plan, the Defence Material Organisation required an understanding of industry skills, capacity, and capability and how they need to develop. We carried out the analysis for the principal shipyards in the industry.
Shipyard facilities and skills surveys were undertaken and assumptions made about the likely productivity levels. The client also required the most appropriate build strategies for the vessels and ways of best using industry capabilities to be determined. Based on our experience, we established which skills would be required to construct each vessel with a good level of productivity. This was compared to the existing skills available to identify skills gaps the industry would need to close to deliver the plan. One of the most innovative aspects of this study was the development of an approach to easily determine the minimum workforce size that needed to be maintained during workload downturns.
We also provided insight on how to maintain and develop Australia's shipbuilding industrial base. A similar approach was applied to the facilities assessment. Based on our existing shipyard capacity assessment tool, a ground-breaking digital model was built to support the analysis and to consider the effect of different scenarios more easily.
Our analysis was reviewed by an expert panel of government bodies, shipyard heads, systems houses, unions and industry groups. The entire results were incorporated into an Australian Government white paper, 'Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan - A Plan for the Naval Shipbuilding Industry', published in March 2013. A number of our recommendations and suggestions were reflected in the white paper and were implemented soon after.