Blair Boyer MP
Minister for Education, Training and Skills

South Australian defence industry leaders will join forces at the University of South Australia today to welcome the first cohort of software engineering students who are beginning an Australian-first degree apprenticeship.

Announced by the Malinauskas Labor Government in November, following the formal declaration by the SA Skills Commission of the Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) as a trade under the South Australian Skills Act 2008, the degree apprenticeship will support the growing defence sector, ahead of the construction of nuclear-powered AUKUS submarines.

This is the first time in Australia that apprentices who successfully complete their studies will receive a degree qualification as part of an apprenticeship.

Five employers have applied and been approved to employ and train software engineer apprentices. Four of those have engaged the inaugural software engineer apprentices.

The program will continue to expand and adapt to meet the fast-growing demand for Software Engineers in local industry, offering students the opportunity to secure paid work and supervised on-the-job training with an employer while studying.

The experience of the initial group of apprentices and employers will help shape the future of the South Australian higher education apprenticeship and traineeship system.

Premier Peter Malinauskas first flagged the degree apprenticeships for the defence industry during his visit to the United Kingdom last year, where they are delivered with a high success rate.

Today the first students gathered for an official launch of the program, at an event which also features an industry panel including leaders in the sector from BAE Systems Australia, ASC, Consunet, and Ai Group.

Quotes attributable to Blair Boyer

This is another tangible way in which the Malinauskas Labor Government is supporting key defence industries in South Australia, helping create a skilled, qualified pipeline of employees.

The degree apprenticeship will allow industry to address critical workforce needs more quickly and will give these students the ability to hit the ground running once they have completed their training.

We will continue to work with industry and our skills partners to ensure we are meeting demand and providing first-class learning opportunities for students.

Quotes attributable to SA Skills Commissioner Cameron Baker

The South Australian Skills Commission is pleased to see this degree apprenticeship underway, and for South Australia to be leading the nation with this approach.

We are supportive of how the degree apprenticeship model can be developed further in South Australia and applied to other industries and disciplines, where on-the job learning while studying at university could fast-track the development of work-ready university graduates.

Quotes attributable to 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.

Published On: April 23rd, 2024