The Department of Defence will expand its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) cadetship program from 50 to 200 cadets as part of its STEM vision.

The STEM Workforce Strategic Vision 2019-2030 was launched in Canberra during National Science Week.

It ensures Defence can keep pace with Australia’s changing strategic environment and is capable of meeting the challenges of the future.

The Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro, said Defence will collaborate with industry and educational institutions to build the workforce required to meet Australia’s future defence and national security needs.

The Group Leader Electro-Optic Countermeasures, Dr Oliva Samardzic, at the launch of the STEM Workforce Strategic Vision 2019-2030 at Russell Offices, Canberra. Photo: Lauren Larking

“These are the careers of the future and competition for people with these qualifications is fierce — it is estimated that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations in the world today require people with STEM skills,” Professor Monro said.

“In Australia there is a growing requirement for a workforce with the necessary skills to drive innovation and to ensure we remain competitive in a tough global economy.

“If Defence is to develop a high-tech force, it needs a larger and more specialised STEM workforce of both uniformed and civilian personnel.

“It also needs a continuous and reliable pipeline of graduates with STEM backgrounds to attract and retain the best and the brightest in their fields.”

Defence aims to influence national STEM programs and inspire future generations of Australians to pursue careers within Defence.

The expansion of the cadet program will create new opportunities for students to start developing their career at Defence while they study.

“These cadets come to Defence Science and Technology Group while studying and they get to see how things they’re learning in university are applied in the workforce, which often makes their study feel much more relevant,” Professor Monro said.

 “We don’t have as many Australian students taking STEM subjects as we need for those jobs of the future.

“Until our STEM workforce represents our society as a whole, we won’t be doing the best work we can – we need to harness the talents of all.”

A STEM portal will also be created on the website to allow students to see what they’re studying could contribute to Australia’s future and defence.