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Joseph Brookes

Western Sydney Uni partners on new education model

Western Sydney University and construction company CPB Contractors will partner to deliver a new model of tertiary education in Western Sydney as part of the state government’s response to skills shortages and vocational education strains.

On Monday, the New South Wales government announced the two organisations would deliver its second Institute of Applied Technology (IAT) in Kingswood next year, more than 18 months after the “bold new approach “ to training was recommended.

The two IATs – the other is in digital technology – will see industry, university and TAFE collaborate to deliver training courses and micro-credentials in an Australian education first.

Under the plan, 26,000 people will be trained at the IATs in digital areas like cybersecurity, big data and artificial intelligence, or construction skills like project management, leadership, and digital construction.

Photo: B-E/Shutterstock

“This innovative partnership will pave the way for students to merge the knowledge gained through university study with the hands-on practical and technical skills acquired through vocational education,” Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said.

“This is the future of skills and training and the NSW government is leading the nation in investing in this critical infrastructure which will be a flagship educational centre, supporting the pipeline of major infrastructure projects which will grow the economy and help secure a brighter future for the people of New South Wales.”

The state government has already committed $225 million for the design and build of the two pilot IATs as part of its response to the Gonski-Shergold review into the state’s vocational education and training sector.

In March last year, the review recommended IATs as a “bold new approach” to tertiary education that is more responsive to changes in student and industry demands, and which would fully integrate the delivery of employability skills, ultimately creating more “job ready” graduates.

The state government accepted the recommendation, along with the others in the review, including establishing Careers NSW and advocating for VET student loans.

In the June state budget, the government allocated $108.5 million over four years to the IATs.

The digital IAT is being delivered by a partnership between Microsoft, UTS and Macquarie University and had been planned to launch in August but was delayed until early next year.

The construction IAT will be located at an $84 million facility at Kingswood, where there are campuses for Western Sydney and TAFE NSW.

“This is an exciting new model for education and training. With this Institute, we will co-design and co-deliver highly flexible education programs that integrate research- led learning with advanced technical and industry-based skills,” vice-chancellor of Western Sydney University Professor Barney Glover said.

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