Western Australia is recognised as a world leader in the adoption of technologies and has strong, advanced manufacturing capabilities, supported by world-class tertiary institutions. 

The industry is trusted as a stable and growing sector and is estimated to contribute over $3 billion a year to Western Australia's economy, and that's set to double within the next decade.

Western Australian TAFE colleges

South Metropolitan TAFE (SM TAFE) specialise in training for a range of occupations, apprenticeships and traineeships suited for careers in Western Australia’s defence industry. SM TAFE works across Western Australia’s network of TAFE colleges which also deliver courses that align with defence industry careers.

SM TAFE's Naval Base campus is located alongside the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, and has recently had a $2.4 million redevelopment and offers the very latest technology and equipment, including 16 new augmented reality welding simulators with a focus on engineering, fabrication and maritime courses.

Find out more about defence-related training at SM TAFE.

Explore the course list

There is a range of vocational education and training (VET) and university courses available that can set you up with the skills and knowledge that Western Australian defence industry employers are looking for. 

Get into training with over 130 fee free qualifications through Lower fees, local skills.

View the Course list here. 


Apprenticeships and traineeships combine employment with training, teaching specialist skills and providing industry experience in the chosen field. Once completed, apprentices and trainees have earned a nationally recognised qualification.

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships

A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship (SBAT) is an employment-based learning pathway for secondary school (Years 11 and 12). It combines off-the-job training at a TAFE college or training provider with paid on-the-job training through a work placement, leading to a nationally recognised qualification that can count towards a student's WACE. An SBAT is designed to give you skills and knowledge in your chosen field or while you're still at school, to give your career a head start. There's also the Aboriginal school-based apprenticeship/ traineeship program, for Aboriginal students in years 10, 11 and 12.

SBATs are available in a range of study areas, including many that are relevant to the defence industry.

To find out more about SBATs, visit Still at school.

Pre-apprenticeships and traineeships

A pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship is a Certificate II program that includes a work placement component, coordinated by a Western Australian TAFE college or training provider. Students get industry specific training combined with hands-on experience in a real workplace, to gain valuable industry skills and knowledge in preparation for employment. 

‘Do I have to do a pre-apprenticeship/traineeship to get an apprenticeship/traineeship?’

No, there is no requirement to have completed a pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship before starting an apprenticeship or traineeship. However, pre-apprentice/trainee students may receive credit for the units completed, reducing the time it takes to complete a full traineeship or apprenticeship.

Search the Course list to see what pre-apprenticeships/traineeships are available. 

Apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships are an excellent way to combine training with work, available to anyone of working age. 

Apprenticeships typically take two to four years to complete and cover skilled trade areas required for defence industry jobs such as engineering, electrotechnology, mechanical or fabrication. Traineeships can take between one to two years to complete and offer a broad range of vocational and occupational choices. An apprenticeship or traineeship is a structured program with a combination of on-the-job training, allowing apprentices and trainees to gain hands-on skills and knowledge, and off-the-job training at a TAFE or training provider. Off-the-job training may be scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis or as a block release across the year.

Search the Course list to see what apprenticeships and traineeships are available, including some with reduced course fees.

Find out more about apprenticeships and traineeships on the Jobs and Skills WA website or submit an enquiry form here.  

Group training organisations

Another option is to find an apprenticeship or traineeship through a group training organisation (GTO). 

GTOs employ apprentices and trainees across a range of different industries. Apprentices/trainees are directly employed by the GTO but 'host' them out to an employer for work. This gives apprentices/trainees the opportunity to work with more than one employer. 

To find out more about what group training can offer, view the list of GTOs in Western Australia or submit an enquiry form here

Western Australian universities

Western Australian universities and the defence industry are working together to ensure that the qualifications available will provide Western Australians with defence ready graduates, ready to step into important fields within the industry.  

Western Australia's four top-ranked universities – Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia – are collaborating together as 'Team WA' to offer specialised research and education programs to support the current and future needs of our defence sector.

All four universities have programs in areas such as engineering that relate directly to defence, but each one also offers highly specialised research and education programs in a range of areas including drone technology and artificial intelligence, maritime and undersea operations, supercomputing, remote and autonomous operations, and planetary science.  

Read the full story by Kristian Constantinides (source: Business News).

Contact the following Western Australian universities directly to discuss what’s on offer for defence industry training and education.

Male student listening to manager. Ship under construction in background.

Matthew Gasiorowski, Graduate Engineer at Austal

“I always wanted to work for an industry that was for the good of the community and country. I believe our defence industry is very important for the safety and quality of life in Australia and it was a clear avenue for where I could play my part in helping out.

I love the opportunities the defence industry provides. One day I could be walking through a ship in its early stages of its production, and the next day I could be on board a vessel for a sea trial. I am constantly provided with opportunities to learn and further my knowledge of my discipline.”

This profile was correct at the time of publishing.