Case Study

Delivering technical trades training to the Royal Australian Navy

In 2023, we signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract to deliver trade training to the next generation of Navy recruits at HMAS Cerberus. This major project will involve the delivery of four qualifications to more than 500 apprentices per year over the next five years.


Wodonga TAFE/Australian Defence Force


Over recent years, Chisholm has delivered trade training to Navy personnel at our campuses. This has involved training over a thousand students annually.

In this new contract, Chisholm is part of the National Technical Education Network (NTEN), a national consortium led by Wodonga TAFE that will deliver training to Defence personnel across the country.

This is the first time that the Australian Defence Force has combined Army, Navy and Air Force trade training in a single national contract, known as Joint Technical Trades Training Services. It is also the first time that eight TAFE institutes and two private RTOs have combined to offer a seamless national training solution to the Australian Government.

Other members of the NTEN include TAFE Queensland (QLD), University of New England Partnerships (NSW), National Electrical and Communications Association (National), Kangan Institute (Victoria), Charles Darwin University (NT), Kinetic IT (VIC), RMIT University (VIC) and South Metropolitan TAFE (WA), TAFE NSW (NSW).

The initial contract is for five years. Options allow for an additional five year extension, with the goal of substantially increasing apprentice numbers each year.

The challenge

While we had previous experience in delivering training to Defence personnel, this contract initially presented a number of challenges.

Working to a tight timeline, we needed to recruit more than 60 suitably qualified and experienced teachers and 14 support staff in less than three months. We had to set up our offices at HMAS Cerberus and moved our relevant training facilities to that site. Our work became more integrated with Defence, as our contractual obligations extended beyond training to include facilities, innovation and efficiencies within the program.

We were also working within a large consortium of providers to deliver a single contract.

The solution

The qualifications being delivered are Certificate III in Electronics and Communications (UEE30920); Certificate III in Electrical Fitting (UEE33020); Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade (MEM31922); and Certificate III in Engineering – Fixed and Mobile Plant Mechanic (MEM31419). We are also providing training across a range of Navy-specific non-accredited courses and pathway diploma courses.

We brought our high-level project management skills to this project and enlisted resources from across Chisholm. Apart from subject specialist departments, our commercial, audit and risk, academic, quality, finance, and people and culture areas were all involved.

To deliver the contract, we established a new training location at Cerberus and tailored delivery to meet specific Defence requirements. This flexibility and responsiveness resulted in a unique program where all theory is delivered upfront, followed by on-the-job practical training components of each course. Part of our role is to build capability and to improve perception of Defence trades as aspirational careers, and this will be an ongoing process.

Biannual NTEN meetings, held in person at various locations around Australia, are proving invaluable for sharing information and best practice in trade training delivery to Defence personnel.


Training delivery commenced on schedule and will be ramped up over the coming months. Recruitment and induction for teachers and support staff are completed and Chisholm offices set up on site at HMAS Cerberus.

Chisholm will make a significant contribution to Australia’s defence by ensuring that the next generation of Defence personnel receive high quality training to the standard required of trusted technicians.

Innovation and agility are core to our organisation and will result in high quality training outcomes that meet Defence needs. This major contract provides our organisation with unique opportunities – to contribute to keeping Australia safe, to work as partners in a national TAFE-led consortium and to bring our learnings to other client projects, augmenting our position as a leading training provider.

From 2025, Chisholm will be expanding its course delivery to also include Certificate IV and Diploma courses in UEE and MEM technical qualifications.

“We are proud to have a nationwide network of strategically aligned RTOs, led by Wodonga TAFE, with an established sovereign training capability that meets Navy and Army needs for Joint Technical Trades Training that is high-quality, scalable, and fit for purpose.
- Damien Crawley, Executive Director, Training Transformation Solutions, Wodonga TAFE.

To learn more contact Industry Specialist.