The national skills shortage caused by border closures and an increase in infrastructure projects by Governments could put pressure on Defence’s ability to maintain and generate new capability.


In 2020 when Australia was forced into lockdown, images of centre-link queues were dramatically splashed across the media. But, while a spike in unemployment and coincidently interest in joining the ADF peaked, 2021 presents a different landscape.

Governments have gone into deficit with priority on infrastructure spending to boost economic activity, which requires a range of skilled labour. Other industries are also vying for labour traditionally filled by overseas visa holders. Border closures have caused skills shortages, with NSW alone reporting an estimated 42% of businesses having negative impacts.

Defence has significant current and future acquisitions to be built under local contract requiring the same skilled labour which broader industry needs. Moreover, Defence increasingly relies on contracted labour to augment capability requirements—defence recruits from the same dwindling labour pool as industry. Consider the strategic implications of the national skills shortage on Defence and how to address it.