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Grow your own workforce

The TAFE Queensland Defence Team visits various employers every week to gather insight on current employment trends. This information helps the team provide guidance to transitioning ADF members and address their employment-related questions. With the evolving recruitment landscape, the Defence team is observing a shift in the types of recruitment requests they receive, such as unexpected and high-volume demands for specific skills.

The traditional method of placing job ads on websites like SEEK is becoming less effective in attracting suitable candidates. As a result, employers are struggling to fill their staffing needs to execute ‘work in progress’ (WIP) contracts. To mitigate these challenges, the TAFE Queensland Defence Team suggests employers following these five strategies to “grow your own workforce” and build a motivated, skilled, and qualified team:

1: Implement an Ex-ADF Veterans program:

Ex-military candidates bring a wealth of unique advantages to organizations and can be a fast way to expand your future workforce and capabilities. With their extensive ADF training, disciplined attitude, and strong work ethic, these individuals make excellent candidates for employment.

Veterans have a keen eye for detail and are known for their punctuality and time management skills, which can be a refreshing change from some employees who struggle with punctuality. While they may not have all the necessary job skills right away, they are highly trainable and thrive in team environments. They are well-equipped to handle tight deadlines, complex organizational hierarchies, and are efficient in following instructions and procedures.

It’s common for veterans to seek out and cluster with other veterans due to their shared attributes, but the benefits they bring to the workplace far outweigh any perceived negatives. They may use specific Defence language and acronyms that can be a barrier to other employees, but these are minor issues. If you’re interested in hiring ex-ADF veterans, please reach out to us at or call 07 3244 0155 to start the conversation.

Employers should also consider the following benefits that veterans bring to the workplace:

  • Leadership skills honed in high-pressure environments
  • Strong time management skills
  • Ability to follow instructions and procedures
  • Disciplined approach to work
  • Proven adaptability to new and challenging situations
  • Diverse perspectives and experiences
  • Dependable work ethic and sense of responsibility
  • Access to specialized technical training
  • Eligibility for government tax credits and incentives.

Below is a sample list of employers who have already pledged to assist ex-Defence personnel in adapting to civilian life by offering job prospects and specialized support programs. Although these programs differ in extent, they share a common goal of aiding ex-Defence personnel in securing significant employment and also grow their organisational workforce.

2: Put a ‘school based’ program in place:

For School based programs a principal has often agreed to embed some advanced industries into their schools, providing teachers and students with industry contextualisation to learnings.  A range of experiences can be offered to broaden science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) knowledge and develop best practice models of pipelining talent for industry, including:

 aerospace and defence


mining equipment, technology and services

transport (vehicle, marine, rail)

resources and renewable energy

biomedical and biotechnology


digital and print media


food and beverage processing


design and furnishings

textiles, leather, clothing and footwear


If your organisation wishes to understand more about building a school-based program, please find more information <Here> or call the Apprenticeship Hotline on 1300782555 (or email

3: Start an Apprenticeship program:

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way to grow your own talent pool and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce that can grow with your business. Other benefits of working with apprentices include: adapting their training according to the needs of your business and they’re motivated to learn new skills.  There is a range of state and federal government financial incentives to encourage businesses to put on apprentices. Also there are many different types of people who can become apprentices or trainees, including:

  • school-leavers;
  • people re-entering the workforce;
  • adults who have decided to change their career.

Apprentices and trainees have key differences:

An Australian Apprenticeship provides a nationally recognised qualification and on-the-job experience. It combines time at work with training and can be completed full-time, part-time or while you are still at school.  A typical apprenticeship is three to four years, which usually results in the apprentice receiving a Certificate III in their specific trade area.  Typical apprenticeships are:

  • Boilermakers (Engineering) and Manufacturing
  • Carpenters, building and construction
  • Automotive
  • Cooking
  • Hairdressing
  • Electricians
  • Glazier

Trainees train in a vocational area, such as office administration, hospitality, information technology. When a trainee completes their traineeship successfully, the trainee receives a minimum Certificate II in their chosen vocation. Traineeships generally last between nine months to 2 years.  Typical traineeships are:

  • Agriculture;
  • information technology;
  • hospitality;
  • business;
  • digital media;
  • financial services.

Employers all over Australia hold apprenticeships and traineeships in high regard. Once an apprenticeship or traineeship is completed, employers know they have completed a structured training program designed by industry experts.

If your business is not equipped to meet all the requirements of an apprenticeship perhaps you can consider using a GTO (Group Training Organisation).   For a business to ‘take on’ an apprentice, they must be able to show exposure to the full range of skills required to work in that industry.  If the work exposure is too narrow to engage an apprentice, then consider working with a GTO – search <here> to find a GTO. In this case the GTO is the actual employer of the apprentice.  GTOs can organise for you to host an apprentice allowing the apprentice to be shared with another business to give the apprentice a more complete exposure to the industry. To learn more about GTOs go here.

4: Use VOC (Verification of Competency) program:

Assessing using Verification of Competency (VOC) enables businesses to confirm and check that their employees are competent in their job role skills and use of specific equipment. VOC are also commonly used in many industries for pre-employment checks, before engaging in employment arrangements or site requirements.  No longer is holding a licence or ticket or qualification enough for an employer to judge if an individual has the currency to operate site equipment safely.  A ‘trade test’ is used to ensure a trade person can execute the role at the appropriate level.

If your organisation wants to understand more about VOC, please email us on <Here>

5: Reverse University pathway:

In general, University Degree programs have limited ability to engage in work placement that relates with industry and leads to employment outcomes.  Overwhelmingly the ‘higher education’ sector focuses on theoretical content leaving the practical component of their learning to be ‘on the job’ post-employment. This typically generates comments from business owners after they have employed the graduate that they need to be retrained.

One model to address this practical gap is the reverse university approach.  In this case, the businesses can set up a practical relationship with a university to expose graduates to your business. This time lets you observe potential employee’s for suitability.  Another approach is to bring university graduates into a TAFE, which will focus heavily on practical skills thereby producing a more holistic candidate and ‘gate’ worker.

The future of work is currently being shaped by the effectiveness of a changing recruitment market. The team is seeing a distinct power shift between candidates and hirers.   By using some of the Grow your own strategies listed above, your business can start to insulate yourself from recruitment peaks and trough trends.

This Project is supported by the Commonwealth of Australia as represented by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.