Launch in Adelaide of Australia’s first degree-level apprenticeship

“BAE Systems, in collaboration with Ai Group and the University of South Australia, are today launching Australia’s first degree-level apprenticeship program – the Software Engineering Apprenticeship,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“Degree apprenticeships have been in operation extensively in other countries, especially in Europe, for a number of years, and have proven to be highly successful. They combine on-the-job experience through working with an employer over a set number of years in their chosen field with the technical skills an apprentice learns while studying the degree at university.

“Graduates of this program will emerge with a Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) plus five years of highly relevant work experience. This is the perfect way to commence a professional career.

“For employers, the benefit of the program is to gain early access to good candidates; to shape their university training to their own workplace; and when they finish their degree, to have skilled and experienced workers who can fit seamlessly into their organisation as professionals and future leaders,” Mr Willox said.

Quote from UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd: “The software engineering degree apprenticeship is a first for Australia and we are extremely proud to lead the country in co-designing it with industry and the State Government.

“The apprenticeship is designed to embed software engineering students into SA’s defence sector from day one. By learning – and earning – on the job and integrating university study into their week, they will be able to hit the ground running when they graduate, equipped with the right skills.

“UniSA has always worked closely with industry to respond to changing workplace needs, and prides itself on being the leading university for graduate employability in Australia. The degree apprenticeship is a natural fit for our university, ensuring we produce highly-skilled graduates for the State’s growing defence sector,” Professor Lloyd said.

Mr Willox said: “Another benefit is that earn and learn programs like this will appeal to a bigger and more diverse pool of students by opening the profession up to people who may have the capability, but not necessarily the means or the interest to study full-time while not earning an income. In this way the program will potentially increase the number of future software engineers.

“Ai Group has worked with UniSA and the participating companies and other employers to design the content and delivery model of the program, and to have the program recognised by the South Australian Skills Commission as Australia’s first degree-level apprenticeship.

“Ai Group’s Apprentice and Trainee Centre has also coordinated the recruitment of all of the first intake of apprentices on behalf of the participating companies.

“This model is different to other arrangements companies might be using to attract university graduates and undergraduates, such as internship programs, work placements and scholarships. There is a formal training contract in place, the apprenticeship is regulated by the State Government, and the apprentice is paid to attend university. The university delivery model is different too, designed more closely like a standard apprenticeship where 80% of the time is spent at work, and 20% spent studying at university.

“Ai Group congratulates the South Australian Government and Premier Peter Malinauskas and the South Australian Skills Commission for their support and for being the first State in Australia to make this possible. We are encouraging other states to follow suit. We are also urging the Australian Government to help facilitate these programs by looking at barriers such as fringe benefits tax obligations when employers contribute to the cost of the apprentice’s student contribution, or expanding apprentice incentive eligibility to higher education qualifications to encourage more employers to get involved,” Mr Willox said.

Other companies who are interested, or people who are interested in becoming future degree apprentices, can register their interest on the Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre website.

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