• The program will be delivered by Victoria University. (Victoria University)
    The program will be delivered by Victoria University. (Victoria University)

BAE Systems Australia and the employer association Ai Group will launch the nation’s first degree apprenticeship program at the start of the 2023 academic year.

The degree apprentice program, to be delivered by Victoria University, aims to increase skilled participation in major defence projects and has already received the endorsement of major employers in the sector.

BAE Systems, Ai Group and Victoria University will pilot an integrated learning program that will include on the job training and academic studies focused on a degree in Systems Engineering. Course specifications were developed in consultation with Apprenticeships Victoria and Engineers Australia.

The model is similar to a program BAE Systems currently operates in the United Kingdom with the endorsement of the UK Government, industry leading employers and academic partners. This program has successfully operated degree apprenticeships since 2015 where UK students are paid to work as apprentice employees and study at the same time.

BAE Systems and Ai Group are collaborating with employers to define shared requirements and outcomes. These companies include Dassault Systems, Advanced Fibre Cluster, Air Radiators, Navantia Australia, Memko and Systra. 

The wider industry group will work with Victoria University to finalise the course ahead of calling for applications for between 20-40 students for the 2023 academic year. Success would see the program broadened to include a variety of engineering degrees.

“BAE Systems Australia will need hundreds, possibly thousands of engineers in the next three decades as major defence projects ramp up across the nation," BAE Systems Australia’s Chief People Officer, Danielle Mesa, said.

“The education sector is changing, technology is changing, and industry needs to be more involved. So, it’s important to look at new and novel ways to influence the national curriculum so that we can provide alternatives for students who might otherwise not consider tertiary studies.”

“Ai Group believes this approach is one that could benefit many employers and many future employees," Executive Director of Ai Group’s Centre for Education and Training, Megan Lilly, said. "We think that the apprenticeship model is one that is suitable for a range of occupations, not just trades.

“This pilot provides a great opportunity to test the model for professional occupations.” 

BAE Systems Australia employs more than 200 graduates, interns and apprentices annually across the company’s national defence and security business. 

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