TAFE NSW to pilot digital learning institute along Microsoft and local universities

The initial courses provided at the Institute of Applied Technology will focus on AI, big data, and cybersecurity.

TAFE NSW will partner with Microsoft, Macquarie University, and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to pilot a new digital learning institute.

The Institute of Applied Technology (IAT), to be located at the upcoming Meadowbank Education Precinct in Sydney, will allow people to gain credentials such as a certificate, a diploma, or bachelor's degree focused on various digital skills. The courses offered by the IAT will initially focus on AI, big data, and cybersecurity, said Geoff Lee, Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education.

Where the partnership comes into play is Microsoft, UTS, and Macquarie University will create the training programs for the institute, which will include microskills and microcredentials, masterclasses, and industry credentialing.

In addition to the credentials, Digital Minister Victor Dominello said the IAT will also deliver new ICT traineeships aimed at developing and supporting IT professionals through the creation of training and employment opportunities in NSW public-sector agencies.

The IAT will also provide people with integrated education pathways into further learning at other education institutions.

"This partnership will transform Meadowbank into an education and employment powerhouse and prepare local students for the jobs of the future," Dominello said.

TAFE NSW already offers cybersecurity qualifications, but the pilot institute will look to provide more educational offerings as well as pathways into further learning for digital vocations.

The pilot announcement follows the National Skills Commission releasing its first State of the Skills Report [PDF], which found demand for emerging jobs in the digital, data, and online engagement sectors has increased primarily due to increasing uptake of technology overall and a shift to online business models driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In coming to this conclusion, the commission said there was more nuance to the common reference of STEM occupations being important for the future, explaining that computing skills specifically -- a group of specialised technical skills needed to respond to the digital world -- are what will become the major need in the future.

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