To kick off National Science Week, Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh has met some freshly minted Defence scientists who have joined Defence through the NAVIGATE program, a pioneering Defence recruitment initiative that is working to strengthen and diversify the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce in Defence.

Keogh said Defence had a critical role to play in inspiring and building the nation’s STEM talent pipeline. “Defence personnel with STEM skills are a critical enabler underpinning our operational success, and they make a significant contribution to the protection of Australia and our national interests. More and more the sailors, soldiers and aviators of our 21st Century defence force require STEM skills to undertake their vital work. NAVIGATE provides dedicated learning, development and mentoring opportunities and equips mid-career professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed as STEM leaders of tomorrow.”

The first cohort of 36 commenced the NAVIGATE program in May and a further 33 participants are due to begin their NAVIGATE journeys on 29 August 2022.

“Participants are being placed in STEM positions across Defence and throughout the broader innovation ecosystem. This not only gives them a richer experience but also means Defence is making new personal connections with collaborative partners in industry,” Keogh said. In addition, the program seeks to diversify the STEM workforce, including enhancing female representation at mid-to-senior levels. It is pleasing to see Defence has exceeded its minimum target of 40 per cent female participation in the program. NAVIGATE will help to expand the pool of high-quality female candidates to feed into higher levels of the organisation that have historically had relatively low female representation,” Keogh said.

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