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12 - 15 September 2023

Excel - London

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Obtaining & Retaining Skills

Obtaining & Retaining Skills

Day Three (Thursday 16 September) focused on the most important aspect of defence – its people. As technology and strategic approach evolves, so do the skills required to implement them. Obtaining and retaining the correct skills to support current and future operational advantage is one of the most difficult challenges for leaders to address.

Every force faces the constant question of where the next generation of recruits will come from. Added to that is the necessity of forecasting the required recruitment profile of tomorrow, and the challenge of keeping suitably skilled actors within the industry.

The UK MoD and its Allies’ personnel leaders discussed their long-term visions for developing the next-generation of aviators, engineers and support personnel, to fully harness the potential that new technologies offer. For equipment suppliers, this was their chance to discover the considerable opportunities that an entirely new approach to training will provide, with synthetics, virtual, and augmented technologies at its core.

DSEI 2021 has worked in close partnership with a number of UK MoD Working Groups to develop this theme in accordance with the needs of the industry. There is a focus on the evolution of training requirements and technologies, particularly in the light of the evolving threat landscape.

Forum panels on Thursday 16 September

The overarching theme on the third day of the show was ‘Obtaining and Retaining Skills’. Throughout Thursday 16 September, all seminar theatres explored the issues and training developments being addressed by both the military and industry sectors. This included:

  • Multi-domain training capabilities
  • Resourcing DevSecOps to meet the new Defence need
  • VRLT and SSE training
  • Regional understanding and personal development via overseas bases
  • The importance of creativity and diversity within the talent pool

Friday 17 September - The Next Generation

The NextGen Programme was an exciting addition to DSEI 2021 that aimed to establish how the Defence Enterprise as a prospective employer will work with collaboratively with Academia.

A dedicated conference programme ran on the morning of Friday 17 September, with the support of the UK MoD Defence Engineering Champion Team. The primary objective was to examine how the public and private sectors will keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology and generate the future skills required across the Defence Enterprise. The programme explored how Defence will collaborate with Academia to set the standards and education pathways that will meet the future demand signal whilst also making engineering roles accessible to all.


Hold and drag on the agenda in order to see earlier/later sessions.

Keynote Studio
Streamed to all theatres
  1. Keynote Studio

    The NextGen Programme is an exciting addition to DSEI 2021 that aims to establish how the Defence Enterprise as a prospective employer will work with collaboratively with Academia.

    • Innovation
    • Obtaining & Retaining Skills
    Keynote Studio
    This panel will look at measures to better support the development of an innovative, resilient and i ...
    • Obtaining & Retaining Skills
    Keynote Studio
    • Obtaining & Retaining Skills
    • Cyber Security
    Keynote Studio
    This panel will explore the pathways into the Defence industry for the full spectrum of cyber skills ...


Webinar: Skills Requirements for Modernisation

The Multi Domain Integration approach will need a wide range of skills supporting it, including a stronger focus on space and cyber domains. This webinar discusses what skills are required and the existing skill gap within both Primes and the Forces. It also reviews approaches to bridging that gap, and what needs to be done to develop the next generation of skilled personnel.

To start the conversation in the best way possible, DSEI 2021’s chief Defence advisor AVM Gary Waterfall caught up with key figures from the military, industry and academia to discuss the challenges of meeting future skills requirements, including:

  • RAdm Paul Marshall CBE, Director Naval Acquisition and UK MoD Engineering Skills Champion
  • Chloe Chambers, Head of Talent and Resourcing, BAE Systems
  • Professor Emma Sparks, Director of Programme Portfolio Delivery & Deputy Director Education, Cranfield University – Defence & Security

Click here to watch the discussion

Webinar: Choose to Challenge

 A key theme for DSEI ’21 is the development of talent and key skills within the Defence industry. Ensuring diversity and encouraging retention is a vital aspect of this, and one which requires a better understanding of the incoming workforce’s concerns.

DSEI 2021 is proud to have partnered with Women in Defence UK, working with them to promote a diverse and creative range of voices discussing the most pressing themes within the industry. In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we teamed up with them to host a Q&A session between cadets and senior industry leaders, including:

  • Lt Gen James Swift, Chief of Defence People
  • Sarah Wiseman, Head of Exports Policy, UK MoD
  • Dr Sue Metcalff, CTO and Head of MoD Research & Advice Division, ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK Ltd

The panel outlines their views on building and retaining a diverse workforce, before opening the session to questions from cadets and apprentices across the industry about everything from possible career paths to overcoming barriers.

Click here to watch the discussion

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