23 April 2024

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UniSA software engineering degree apprentice Alicia Bawden on site at Osborne.

Australia’s first cohort of software engineering students to combine an apprenticeship with a degree, rubbed shoulders with defence industry leaders today in an official launch of the program at UniSA.

Thirteen UniSA students have started work this year with three Adelaide defence employers – BAE Systems, submarine company ASC and electronic warfare specialists Consunet – combining work and study in their first year of a Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours).

The UniSA students will support South Australia’s growing defence sector, ahead of the construction of nuclear-powered AUKUS submarines.

Following the UK’s lead, where software degree apprenticeships are delivered in conjunction with BAE System’s submarine shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, the students are earning and learning in a fusion of academic education and practical workplace training.

SA Minister for Education, Training and Skills, Blair Boyer MP, officially launched the degree apprenticeship program this morning at UniSA’s Enterprise Hub, joined by industry partners and UniSA Provost & Chief Academic Officer Professor Joanne Cys.

The program is a partnership between UniSA, the State Government, the defence industry and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

Funded by the State Government with a $450,000 commitment over three years, the Australia-first initiative of blending university study with paid work could set a precedent for other industries depending on its success.

“This is a tangible way in which the Malinauskas Labor Government is supporting key defence industries in South Australia, helping to create a skilled, qualified pipeline of employees,” Minister Boyer says.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the degree apprenticeship is a natural fit for UniSA.

“We are extremely proud to lead the country in co-designing this Australia-first program 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.”

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UniSA first-year software engineering students Alicia Bawden and Daniel Tweedale are both apprenticed to BAE Systems.

18-year-old Alicia Bawden is one of 13 UniSA students enrolled in the first cohort, apprenticed to BAE Systems at Osborne.

The former Norwood International High School student enjoyed coding at school, steering her in the direction of software engineering.

“I really enjoy the blended learning experience because it’s an opportunity to get first-hand experience working in the engineering environment and it enables you to implement what you learn at university into a real-world situation,” Alicia says.

Mature aged student Daniel Tweedale, 33, was drawn to the program after previous interactions with the defence industry while working as a contractor.

The BAE apprentice is considering a career in systems engineering or computer science.

“I enjoy problem solving, working with technology and I’m a hands-on learner so this model really suits me,” he says.

The first-year UniSA software engineering subjects include IT fundamentals, problem solving and programming, industry professional development and taking part in a Design Think Studio.

“The UniSA course delivery is quite unique and it promotes team work, critical thinking and reflection – all aspects that we can put into practise in the workplace,” Daniel says.



Media contact: Candy Gibson M:  0434 605 142 E: candy.gibson@unisa.edu.au


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