skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Defence TAFE Employment Scheme

Defence TAFE Employment Scheme

The Defence TAFE Employment Scheme (DTES) offers students a head start to their career in Defence by supporting their vocational education with practical, paid work experience that contributes to the protection of Australia’s national interests.

As a participant on the Defence TAFE Employment Scheme, you will work as part of the Australian Public Service (APS) where you will be provided with practical, relevant and high-quality work on a part time basis, whilst continuing your vocational education and being paid a full-time salary.

We are seeking the following disciplines for 2021.


  • Business
  • Computing and Cyber Security
  • Database Design and Development
  • Engineering
    • Electrical
    • Industrial Electronics
    • Renewable Energy
    • Systems
    • Technical
  • Government
  • IT/Networking
  • Logistics
  • Purchasing/Procurement and Contracting
  • Software Development
  • Website Development



  • Logistics


  • Database Design and Development
  • Engineering
    • Electronics
    • Electronics and Communication
    • Instrumentation and Control
  • IT/Networking
  • Software Development
  • Website Development


  • Engineering
    • Electronics and Communication
  • Logistics


  • Business/Business Administration
  • Engineering
    • Electrical/Electronics
    • Communications/Telecommunications
    • Mechanical/Mechatronics
  • Leadership and Management
  • Logistics


  • Computing and Cyber Security
  • Engineering
    • Electrical
    • Electrotechnology (Engineering Instumentalisation)
Defence TAFE Employment Scheme
Defence TAFE Employment Scheme

About the DTES

Applications for the 2021 DTES Program close on 9 August 2020! Apply Now

About the DTES

The DTES is a civilian traineeship scheme designed to support students completing their final year/s of TAFE by providing paid employment combined with ongoing study with guaranteed employment on successful completion of the scheme.

As a DTES trainee you will be provided with the opportunity to use your acquired knowledge and skills to complement your continuing study program with relevant, exciting and practical employment in a unique environment. You will be provided with real-life paid work to practice and utilise your existing skills.

You will work on exciting, real-world projects with leading edge technology in a range of job disciplines, including computing and cyber security, engineering/technology, and logistics.

Depending on your experience, work in Defence will be designed to complement your study program. A training plan including your study and work requirements will be negotiated and signed with your supervisor. This plan will involve a mutually beneficial work-to-study ratio during your school semester and full-time work in Defence during semester breaks as negotiated with your supervisor.

Positions are available in various locations around Australia (locations vary from year to year). Those awarded a place on the DTES will commence with Defence in February 2021.

Employment Conditions

Trainees on the DTES are employed as Australian Public Servants (APS), where work-life balances are important and your TAFE contact hours form part of your paid employment. You will receive hands-on experience that is second to none, whilst completing your qualification.

Trainees on the DTES will commence on a minimum salary of $49,616 plus more than 15.4% superannuation. Upon successful completion of the program, trainees will be promoted to the APS 3 level plus 15.4% superannuation.

Throughout your time on the DTES, you may participate in workplace rotations and will be provided with training that is relevant to both your discipline and career development.

You will receive the following additional advantages whilst on the DTES:

  • Excellent working conditions
  • Direct exposure to Defence capability and projects
  • Reimbursement of your TAFE course fees and the cost of required text books/equipment
  • Flex-time to support your work life balance
  • Access to all Defence leave entitlements including Christmas stand-down
  • Guaranteed employment in the Department of Defence as an Australian Public Servant with a starting salary in excess of $59,000 (plus superannuation) upon successful completion of the program

Employment conditions for Defence APS employees are contained in the Defence Enterprise Agreement (DEA) 2017-2020

Eligibility Requirements

  1. To be eligible to apply for employment within the Department you must meet all of the following criteria. Under the Public Service Act 1999 all applicants must be Australian citizens to be eligible for engagement as an employee of the Department. Applicants for the DTES must be Australian citizens at the time of application, or have applied for citizenship. You must be an Australian Citizen prior to entry to the program.
  2. You must be prepared to meet security clearance requirements outlined further below.
  3. You must have completed six months of full-time study (or equivalent) towards an accredited qualification in one of the required disciplines.
  4. You must have the following amount of part-time study remaining when you commence the program:
    • Computing and cyber security – 12 months
    • Logistics – 6+ months
    • Engineering – 12 months
    The following qualifications will be accepted:
    • Certificate IV
    • Diploma
    • Advanced Diploma
    • Associate Degree
Defence TAFE Employment Scheme
Defence TAFE Employment Scheme

DTES Selection Process

Stage 1

Online Application

Upon registering your details through Defence’s online recruitment portal you will be asked to complete personal information and asked questions which relate to eligibility for the program such as citizenship, current and previous employment and information regarding your current education and future intentions. Please complete all questions; these will be verified at a later stage.

Documentation: At this time you will be requested to upload a copy of your resume, academic transcript/s and citizenship certificate, or proof of citizenship application.

If you do not meet one or more of the eligibility requirements your application will not be progressed further. Responses to Selection Criteria:

During this stage, you will be asked to address the selection criteria.

The selection criteria provide a set of measurable standards against which employers can assess your application. Defence uses capabilities identified within the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Integrated Leadership System to measure and rank applicants responses to each question on the application.

You will be required to submit responses against the criteria being assessed. Your responses are limited to a maximum of 400 words per criteria, not 400 words in total. How you prepare your responses is up to you, however, please ensure that you incorporate responses and examples against each criteria.

Applicants are strongly advised to read our Hints and Tips for completing your application (below) prior to submitting their application.

Work Experience / Employment: Applicants should include in this area reference to any work experience and/or employment undertaken. Work experience is not limited to paid employment. Please include any relevant volunteer, internships, and unpaid employment.

Referees: Please note that you will be required to supply details of referees at this point.

Referee reports will be completed for candidates who progress following the interview. The Student Programs team will provide the template for these reports. It is preferred that referees be someone who knows your skills and abilities in relation to work or study, however character referees are acceptable as long as they are not family members.

Applications must be submitted by 9 August 2020

Stage 2

Written Assessment and Interview

Applicants who are found to be competitive on the basis of their online application will be invited to complete further assessment processes including an interview.

Interviews are expected to occur in August.

Stage 3

Final Selection

If successful, a member of the Student Programs team will make contact via telephone with an offer of employment in late September for the 2021 DTES which will commence in February 2021.


If you have any questions about the DTES program or application process, please email or call 02 6127 2325.

Hints & Tips

Before applying for the DTES:

Do your research. We’re interested in why you want to work for Defence!

Find out as much as you can about the Department of Defence. In particular, projects or issues relating to your discipline will provide you with topics for discussion within your application or at interview.

The Defence White Paper contains specific information regarding the strategic direction of the Department for 20 years from 2016.

The Defence website contains general information regarding each group/service including news, media releases and reports and publications.

Candidates who demonstrate a genuine interest in Defence stand out during the application process and at interview.

Understand the Selection Criteria

Selection criteria provide a set of measurable standards against which employers can assess your application.

When you apply for a position in the public service your application must address the selection criteria. The written application should provide sufficient and relevant information to allow a selection panel to short-list candidates to the next stage. This should include relevant examples of how you have demonstrated the behaviours/criteria.

When we read your application, we are looking to see examples of how you have met the selection criteria in the following areas:

  • Achieves results
  • Thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Genuine interest in working with Defence

How to best write your response against selection criteria the Star Approach

Taken from Get it Right: A Recruitment Kit for Managers, APSC, 2003; see APSC Cracking the Code for further information.

To structure your response to the selection criteria we recommend that you use the 'STAR' approach. The STAR approach will assist you when responding to the questions asked.

The STAR approach asks you to answer some specific questions, giving examples of when and how you have used your skills.

When writing your response:

  • Use examples from work, TAFE or other areas of your life such as volunteer roles
  • Focus on your own involvement in various situations (use 'I' rather than 'we')
  • Provide recent examples wherever possible
  • Use examples that have a clear beginning, middle and end


  • Situation
    • Briefly outline of the situation or setting
    • Who was involved?
    • What was your role?
  • Task
    • What did you do?
    • What happened next?
  • Approach or Action you took
    • How did you do it?
    • Why did you choose that approach?
  • Result
    • What was the outcome?
    • What feedback did you receive?
    • Was there a measurable component to your result?

Hints to start writing

There are many ways in which you can start writing your responses to selection criteria. The following is just one. One point to stress, however, is to have someone else read over your application for spelling or grammatical errors. This will also help you ensure that you have actually answered the question asked.

  • Look at the question and decide what selection criterion is being asked
  • Write down an experience that you have had concerning that selection criterion. Don't worry about word limits or grammar - just write
  • Get someone else to read your response to check you have written about the right criterion. Sometimes you will find you have included more than one
  • Go back through the example again and, using the STAR approach, highlight each area
  • You will then be able to start writing your response, tailoring it to the appropriate criterion and any word limits imposed
  • It is important to remember to state what you did, not what the group, the team, or your supervisor did


What will I be doing while on the DTES?

Depending on the area you are placed into, you will be provided with specialist training required for the roles, receive on the job training from experienced supervisors and participate in corporate training organised by your program manager. You will join an existing team and contribute to their key deliverables. Interstate travel may be required in some work areas. Trainees may be provided with workplace rotations of about 6 months each.

Trainees will also have the opportunity to participate in social events with past and current trainees and to visit several bases within NSW to get a first-hand look at Defence capability.

Are you looking for people studying particular disciplines?

Yes. The DTES recruits to the disciplines and areas that are required for a particular area/discipline that have been identified in the Department as “critical”. This means that the numbers may vary from year to year, but will be updated on the website each year.

Can I apply if I am not an Australian citizen?

To be eligible to work in the Defence Department you MUST BE an Australian Citizen (if you are a dual Australian citizen, you are eligible to apply for the DTES). Applicants applying for citizenship at the time of application must have gained citizenship three months prior to commencement of the program.

What does a security clearance involve?

It is a condition of employment in the Department of Defence that you obtain and maintain a security clearance. The level and requirements of obtaining the clearance vary depending upon your intended work area. See our information on eligibility for more information.

For any level of security clearance, you will be asked to provide comprehensive information about yourself, your dependants and give the Department the right to check any information which you provide with relevant authorities such as the Australian Federal Police and financial institutions. Only the candidates who accept a position on a program undergo a security clearance.

What do I need for a security clearance?

You will need to be an Australian citizen to obtain a security clearance. In addition, applicants must have a verifiable personal background/history for at least the preceding:

  • Five years for Baseline clearances;
  • Ten years for Negative Vetting 1 (NV1)/Negative Vetting 2 (NV2); and
  • Whole of life for Positive Vetting (PV) clearances.

Further information is available on the AGSVA website.

What if I am unsuccessful in getting a security clearance?

As the security clearance will form part of the conditions of engagement, if you are unsuccessful in getting a security clearance at the required level, your offer to join the DTES will be withdrawn.

Hear from our Trainees

Mandy – Technical Trainee, Land Engineering Agency, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG)

Mandy Technical Trainee

What is exciting about your role in Defence?

My rotations so far have taken me all over Defence, from clothing and textile engineering, to deployable generators, and now to radio communication systems. Throughout these rotations I have worked on equipment essential to the war fighter’s safety and survivability. This has been a rewarding experience as this is the first job I have had where I feel I can contribute to something more important; I am excited to see what opportunities will arise next.

How do you make a difference in your role?

By acquiring knowledge and expertise from various subject matter experts within Defence in order to continue their work of supporting the war fighter. Their wealth of knowledge is essential to support Defence capabilities and projects going forward and should be passed on to the new workforce generation.

What opportunities have you had in Defence?

The most exciting and challenging assignment I have had to date is being nominated leader for a task to re-fit communications equipment within combat vehicles. This will involve hands on work under the supervision of communications specialists, and the responsibility of drafting subsequent technical documentation. As a whole, this is a challenging and exciting task, where the experience and skills gained will prove indispensable in my career going forward.

How has the mentorship from your supervisor developed you?

By having industry experts support and guide you through technical processes and procedures you are able to learn comfortably with no fear of judgement. All my supervisors so far have been more than willing to take the time and explain things in small detail and yet still provide opportunities that are challenging and encourage me to work independently.

What do you like best about working in Defence?

During my time at Defence I have developed friendships and mentorships, all of which I communicate regularly for advice and guidance. This has created a very positive environment for me to grow and develop as a technical advisor and in the not too distant future, an electrical engineer.

On my journey to becoming an electrical engineer, I know Defence will support and encourage my learning, whilst utilising my new skillset within the workplace. I am very lucky to be a part of this program whilst still studying my Advanced Diploma, as I know many students would wish to have an opportunity as good as this one at such an early stage in their careers.

Jordan – Technical Officer, Battlespace Communications Operations Group (BCOG), Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG)

What is exciting about your role in Defence?

In my first two years in Defence I had been exposed to ships, tanks, aircraft and much more. I have had the opportunity to visit state of the art Defence facilities and participate in exciting test events such as explosive blast testing. There are very few jobs that come with experiences like this, and I am very grateful to have one of them.

On a day to day basis, the excitement comes from seeing the work you do contributing to state of the art systems, Defence materiel, and Australia’s wider Defence capability – even if it is in a small way.

How do you make a difference in your role?

My role requires me to investigate and solve technical problems that are reported by capability users throughout all three services within the Australian Defence Force (ADF) . I am required to develop solutions to these problems and deliver them to our users in practical and timely manner. This is one of the most rewarding responsibilities I have, and the one that makes the greatest positive impact if done well. It’s a great feeling knowing that once you have completed a project, our colleagues in the ADF are more capable and better equipped than they were before you started.

What opportunities have you had in Defence?

In my relatively short amount of time with Defence, I have had the chance to work in three different roles, each one providing me with unique opportunities. For me, the most exciting is my current role, where I have taken over management of a particular communications system installed in various Army and Navy platforms. I have had the opportunity to develop specialised knowledge and expertise on this system. I have been called on to provide technical support to the operators of the system, assist in having it integrated into new platforms, and participate in making various fleet management and logistics decisions relating to the system. It is extremely rewarding to be able to develop this in-depth knowledge, and then use it to assist my colleagues and contribute to exciting Defence projects.

How has the mentorship from your supervisor developed you?

I have been lucky to be placed under the supervision of three fantastic supervisors in my time with Defence - they have all been great leaders and managers. While each have certainly had their own unique style, one thing they have all had in common is great communication and relationship building skills. It’s amazing what you can make happen if you know how to ask the right questions to the right people – this not something you can learn at university.

My managers have also trusted me to direct my own workload/hours and self-manage to a large extent - this has been very empowering and motivating. I am able to work in a way that best suits me, meaning that I am not only productive, but also happy to be at work at all times.

What do you like best about working in Defence?

I love that I have the opportunity to continue to learn and upskill while still working and getting relevant industry experience. Since completing the DTES program and being awarded my Associate Degree, I have continued to study using a Defence program called Studybank. Studybank provides me with leave and financial support whilst studying, and in a few years’ time I will have completed an honours degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering. This is a great way to ensure that I continue to develop my career opportunities and qualifications.

I also love the positive working culture within Defence. I have worked in a number of different workplaces within Defence, and in each case I have been surrounded by great people who create an enjoyable and supportive workplace.

Erin – Technical Advisor, Land Engineering Agency, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG)

Erin Technical Advisor

What is exciting about your role in Defence?

My current role is the most exciting one I have experienced thus far. I am a technical officer working for the Land Platform Development Program (LPDP) at Land Engineering Agency (LEA) where we test vehicles for survivability against blast. This entails a bit of CAD work in the office to design fixtures to go in/ on the vehicle and my personal favourite, hands on work out at the test range throwing spanners around and getting dirty. The variety of the work and the environment in which I am doing it is perfectly ideal as I am not someone who can just sit at a computer day in and day out. The nature of my work is also incredibly meaningful and important as it directly relates to saving soldiers when they are facing threats out in theatre. One of the other benefits is that LPDP is being involved throughout the whole engineering lifecycle. We get brought in for risk mitigation activities and acceptance testing in the tender and acquisition processes while also testing throughout the sustainment of the item to ensure it is meeting the ever changing requirements.

Working for LEA has afforded me many opportunities. I not only get a wide variety of tasks but I also have the opportunity to engage with many different people who work in or closely with Defence allowing me to learn from them and also widen my network. Contractors from industry, other APS staff, tradies, subject matter experts and military members just to name a few.

On the hands on side of things, I also get to work with upcoming and new technologies in the field including water jet cutting, plasma cutters, additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

How do you make a difference in your role?

I am extremely privileged to work at LPDP because the tasks that I perform in my role directly affects the lives of soldiers. Their survivability in a vehicle blast is the number one reason why I come to work every day. Not only are we testing against a set of requirements but the team at LPDP are also constantly looking at new ways of achieving a better result. The work is not purely about meeting a minimum standard and ensuring we stay above it; our work is about going above and beyond to future proof the capability and survivability of the occupants. Ingenuity and creativity are encouraged on the job to solve a problem or a potential problem in the future.

What opportunities have you had in Defence?

Defence is a work environment that is filled with unlimited opportunities, you just have to make them happen. If you show initiative, forward thinking, problem solving and passion; the options are endless. I have had the chance to work on small tasks such as helping determine the next Soldier Combat Ensemble (ie: what pouches the soldier needs, which belt is best, how large the assault pack should be), working in quality assurance at the Prototype Engineering Centre and blast testing vehicles. Defence is a workplace that thrives on networking. Talking to everyone and anyone that you work or come into contact with helps to define your passions and where you see yourself ending up. Starting out at Defence, I worked on solar panel blankets and how effective they were in the field. That led me to helping write user requirements for the amount of equipment the soldier carries and how it can be made most effective. My next opportunity was working on a billion dollar project – Defence was acquiring a new vehicle and I was working in the Testing and Evaluation section to ensure the vehicle met the given requirements prior to accepting it into service. Just to name a few, there are too many more to list!

This wide range of diverse opportunities has helped shape me into a valuable member of the APS. I have gained a thorough knowledge of how Defence works as an organization and how we best support our soldiers.

Besides work placement opportunities, there has also been ample training, learning and professional development opportunities. Every supervisor is very focussed on developing their staff in training for their role but also any skills to develop them personally. Defence also supports their employees studying to further their education. I have been undertaking Defence supported undergraduate study since I have worked for them. They strongly value development in their people as it only makes the organization stronger as a whole.

How has the mentorship from your supervisor developed you?

Working for Defence can be daunting at the beginning. It is a massive organization with so many different areas all trying to achieve different goals whilst also working together to support Australia’s Defence Force (ADF). The mentoring that I have received from my supervisors from the onset has been invaluable while I try to negotiate myself through this large organization. They offer guidance in their direct work area but also in Defence as a whole. After forging close relationships with my supervisors, they have come to understand my passion, motivations and what drives me in the workplace. This has proved invaluable as they recommend training, development and other work placement opportunities to help develop me as a person. When a person is happy, challenged and motivated in the work they do, they tend to complete that work to a very high standard. I have come to have a close and meaningful professional relationship with all my supervisors as they are not just a face in an office with a closed door. The way Defence is structured, I am often working closely with my supervisor on a day to day basis. There is constant and open communication and I am encouraged to speak my mind and say my opinion. Defence is different from the dog-eat-dog world of private industry as there is less competition between co-workers and more support and encouragement for each other. Although working at Defence can sometimes feel overwhelming, having that support and mentor network is extremely important and valuable. I very much look forward to when I can help new starters navigate and find their way through the organization.

What do you like best about working in Defence?

Defence is an extremely supportive organization to work for. The work – life balance that they offer is incredibly important to me as well as the learning and development opportunities. Not only is my work exciting and meaningful but I know that my employer supports me as a person individually as well.

I also thoroughly enjoy meeting the people that work here from all different walks of life. They say “Learn from other people’s mistakes, you don’t have enough time to make them all yourself”. Well similar can be said for people’s life experiences. I have learnt so much about my own life from listening to other people’s experiences and why they are the way they are. Whether the person you are working with is a veteran, someone who has transferred from the UK military, a mature age student on their third career, a freshie out of high school with their first job; I have learnt something from them all. In my previous jobs I have never experienced such a diverse group of people and I truly appreciate that Defence allows me to be a sponge and just absorb everything in my surroundings and grow from it.