With the end of the financial year, the Defence community has inflation (7% in 2023, according to ABS) and budgets in mind. And for small to medium enterprises, the need to brace for impact is more significant.
As shared in Australia Defence Magazine,
"It's no secret that small businesses such as those that make up much of our Defence industry, have great difficulty absorbing abrupt swings in cash flow."
For many, supporting Defence small businesses is a two-fold job:
Boosting acquisition and procurement
And developing capability
The competition for talent in Defence
Cost efficiency must be balanced with the need to find or develop talent with relevant skills. 72.4% of Defence Industry Skills Survey respondents had challenges recruiting skilled candidates in the preceding year. Roles most affected by the gap include support services, engineering, program management, design, logistics and manufacturing.
Furthermore, the survey found that Defence industry SMEs are especially vulnerable to skilled labour shortages. Defence Primes and larger businesses typically have access to workforce development and management resources that SMEs do not. These can include the ability to invest in up-skilling existing workers or running development programs for graduate-level employees.
Developing existing staff as a strategy for Defence SMEs
Regarding the skills, Defence SME should look beyond what's required for the technical roles identified in the Defence Industry Skills Survey. At the inaugural Defence Connect AIC Summit in 2022, leading experts shed light on some essential lessons for small businesses in the ecosystem.
Diversifying your market
Australia’s allies are also looking to diversify their trading partners. This provides opportunities for Australian SMEs around the world. It also means training and certifying in leading technologies and practices ensures your current team are able to meet global standards, especially when it is challenging to hire externally.
Prioritising Optimisation vs. Innovation
Defence businesses focus too much on innovation and forget about creating optimised solutions for the ADF’s sustainment programs. So, project and program management, change management training, logistics and supply chain management consultations remain crucial.
Ensuring Cyber Readiness
Stricter cyber protocols may be placed on companies. Thus, cyber security training is vital; all staff must go through end user awareness training, and identified technical team members can begin developing expertise through fundamental cyber security certifications.
Resolving admin issues and pain points
Even if a business is innovative, they must also get the basics right. These include security clearances for staff and compliance with the Defence industry security program. In addition, training on automation and end user applications and incorporating them into quality assurance processes can ensure that day-to-day admin tasks are above board.
Navigating the Defence ecosystem
It's essential to have staff who understand the sector from the “inside.” Knowing how your products and services address requirements is valuable. From there, you can identify the technologies and frameworks your team needs to train for, whether it’s Application Development, DevSecOps, Cloud Computing or ITIL. Learning how best to present your offerings in different stages through Growth Marketing, Bid Writing, Business Analysis and Data Analytics helps too.
Training Grants for Defence Businesses
The Australian Government has introduced a program of grants to address these concerns. We recommend that you discuss these options with your finance team or accountant.
You can explore Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grants Program. This aims to develop human resources practices and training plans. It supplies grants of between $5,000 and $500,000.
Defence businesses can apply for multiple grants or group multiple eligible activities into one application. Funding is capped at $500,000 in a six-year period from 2020–21 to 2025–26 for:
each eligible business; and
each industry association applying for funding to train their own staff.
The grant focuses on:
Small to medium businesses (SMEs) with less than 200 employees, currently with a Defence contract, tendering for one, is a subcontractor to a Defence prime or contracted through the Prime's supply chain to deliver on Defence projects
Defence Industry Associations training staff or facilitating training to businesses you are representing, or applying for funding for eligible activities for the eligible businesses you are standing for
Defence-related SMEs can apply for Government grants to upskill their employees. The Australian Government has introduced a grants program as a part of the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy to improve accessibility for SMEs.
Support for Defence and Defence SMEs from Lumify Group
When it comes to ICT training programs, Lumify Group have been working with Defence for 20+ years.
Lumify Work (formerly DDLS Training) offers instructor-led ICT Training for the sector. In late 2022, we curated and crafted courses for small businesses. Training is focused on Cloud Infrastructure and Services, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & AI, Cloud Computing, ITIL, Microsoft 365 and Office and Project and Program Management.
Courses are designed with the challenges of leaner organisations in mind -- many roles and responsibilities and very little time for training. Course delivery is meant to balance taking some time off day to day tasks with supporting employees' career progression and the company's need to innovate and digitise.
Self-paced learning offers materials that you can study on your own. They include technical instructor recordings, course content and interactive exercises. This type of delivery allows students to learn at their own pace, return to material where needed and reinforce concepts.
'Drop-in' sessions address the needs of learners who prefer self-paced study but with the added benefit of an expert instructor who can guide them. Students can study the materials in their own time and then book a consultation with an instructor to discuss your specific questions. Students can email their questions beforehand to the instructor to maximise the use of the session. Trainers deliver these sessions remotely. Drop-in sessions come in blocks of 45 minutes each.
Gain compliance, peace of mind, increased productivity, opportunities to strengthen your position in the market and team happiness with these small business training courses. Download our eBook on digital skilling for SMEs.
And through Lumify People (formerly DDLS People), we have been a long-standing partner of Defence in solving challenges in logistics, supply chain management, project management and learning and development.
Lumify People General Manager Kenneth Hoppe has also been appointed to the Victoria Committee of the Australian Industry & Defence Network (AIDN). This appointment sees Ken involved with programs that advocate for, represent, network with and provide member services to the nation’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the defence and security sectors. Visit the Lumify People website to learn more: https://www.lumifypeople.com/