Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Broad Skills Needed for AUKUS

The Australian government has announced $128M for 4,001 STEM students with skills needed for the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine project. It should be noted most of the training, and jobs, will not be related to nuclear technology. The initial submarines will be purchased built from the USA and largely supported by US personnel. In my opinion, it is unlikely the followup AUKUS submarines will ever be built. By that time conventionally armed crewed submarines will have been rendered obsolete by drones. However the STEM skills the graduates learn in these courses will be critical to designing and building drone submarines as part of the evolved and expanded AUKUSJSK.

Professor Andrew Norton has criticized the level of funding, as it assumes a 25% attrition rate per year. He points out this is higher than is typical. This may reflect the demand for skills in industry. Universities may have difficulty keeping students in the program, when they could be earning in industry after only completing part of the program, especially those in the AUKUS courses who will be required to meet security vetting requirements. One approach would be to have nested work integrated programs, where students study while working on AUKUS, with their work being submitted for assessment. Students could complete the first part of the program, and be awarded a qualification to get them an entry level job. They would be then study while working for a promotion.

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