First cohort of TAFE trainees on accelerated path to employment

Tobias Soul
Diploma of IT trainee, Tobias Soul, is now employed by IBM as a Software Tester.

Federation TAFE’s Diploma of Information Technology (IT) program is putting young people on a fast track to employment and creating a pipeline of skilled IT workers to meet the need of Australia’s critical tech skills shortage.

Diploma of IT students gained valuable real-world experience through traineeships with global IT company, IBM Australia, working at IBM four days a week and studying at Federation TAFE for one day for the duration of the one-year program.

The collaboration between education and industry was so successful it led to the entire cohort being offered full-time, permanent employment with IBM highlighting the need for future connection between student learning and the skills that employers need.

Before studying the Diploma of IT, the trainees all studied the Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) program at Federation College, a collaboration with IBM, which provides students in Years 10 to 12 with industry qualifications through workplace learning experiences and mentoring.

Federation University Australia and IBM have enjoyed a successful partnership for over 25 years, with IBM being a key contributor to Federation University’s co-operative education model, where programs will be co-designed, co-developed and co-delivered with industry across all university degrees and TAFE courses from 2025.

Diploma of IT graduate, Tobias Soul who is now working at IBM as a Software Tester said, “After I finished P-Tech, I decided to study a Certificate IV in Cybersecurity, and while doing that was offered the IBM traineeship. I have always had a passion for technology so jumped at the opportunity of the traineeship and started it while finishing off my Cert IV. It was a great honour to be selected for the traineeship, and I felt like it was a wonderful opportunity to learn new things and get a step up in the workforce. The part I enjoyed the most was performing tests of the system and making sure it all worked how it should.”

Federation TAFE IT teacher, Adam Bignold says “It has been great to see a global business recognise the value of a TAFE degree. I’ve worked in both TAFE and Higher Education for a decade. TAFE can be an excellent choice for students who are looking to develop strong practical skills and secure a job quickly. TAFE courses focus on hands-on training and industry-specific skills, making them highly valued by employers in a range of fields, including Information Technology.”

“The community of practice that the students created, together with IBM and Federation TAFE, was a very successful way to enhance their learning experience. By collaborating and sharing their work experiences, the students were able to bring real-world knowledge and practical skills into the classroom, creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment.“

For Tobias the future is looking bright, “It was a great relief to be offered a full-time role at IBM on completing the Diploma of IT, and I feel comforted knowing that I have job security. I hope that I can stay within IBM for a very long while I learn things and new technologies, and maybe further my education in the future.”

IBM’s Ballarat Client Innovation Centre Associate Partner, Pearl Myers, says the 25-year collaboration between Federation University and IBM has helped many students gain relevant industry skills and the opportunity to apply their studies in the workplace before they graduate.

“We are proud to help mentor and train the next generation of IT workers and contribute to helping foster a pipeline of career-ready graduates in this critical industry,” Ms Myers said.

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