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La Trobe takes on skills gap with Australia’s first IoT course

SOURCE: La Trobe University
The new Master's programme will be offered from La Trobe's Bendigo campus from 2020.

Australia’s La Trobe University is taking the lead on closing the country’s Internet of Things (IoT) skills gap with plans to offer a brand new Master’s course in the discipline from next year.

Recognising the growth potential of the exploding global sector, the university developed the two-year programme specifically to meet demands for talent in the field. 

“The Internet of Things is in demand by all types of industry at the moment – it is undergoing exponential growth on a global scale,” says Head of the Technology Innovation Lab, Dr Simon Egerton.

“Organisations are realising the enormous potential of the Internet of Things to make them more productive and efficient by giving them what they most need – information.

“However, from talking to them, we know that there is a major shortage of experts who are skilled in this space – and that’s why we have developed this course,” he added.

According to a press release, La Trobe is the first university in Australia to offer such a course. 

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Global statistics have shown that despite the exponential expansion of IoT adoption across industries everywhere, higher education has failed to keep pace with talent needs. 

To put things into perspective, projections show that by the end of this year, there will be 26 billion devices connected by IoT.

By 2025, that number will nearly triple to 75 billion. But how and who will manage and maintain these massive networks, clouds and connections that help govern and transmit this data?

As it stands, the lack of IoT talent is already stymieing adoption, with solutions providers saying the gap was threatening business bottom lines.

Larger organisations with room in the budget for staff training are investing in partnerships with universities on bespoke short courses and microcredentials, among other alternative programmes to upskill existing employees and boost retention rates. 

Others, however, have no choice but to hire right. But with the labour market still severely short on digital skill talents, they are often disappointed with what they find.

La Trobe’s IoT course strikes at the very heart of this problem. 

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According to Dr Egerton, the syllabus was co-created with future employers, which ensures its graduates are job-ready and skilled up with the skills that businesses actually need.

“The course will be highly workplace-focused, and will teach students to be creative, clever and adaptable to industry need.

“The Internet of Things is at the foothills of where the internet was back in the 1990s.

“Some of the opportunities awaiting graduates of this course haven’t even been realised yet,” Dr Egerton said.

Offered at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, students will get to use the regional city as a “living lab”, working in partnership with organisations such as Bendigo Bank, Coliban Water, the City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Health to implement projects.

They will be based in a new IoT lab in Bendigo, which will include an IoT platform, social robotics, as well as prototyping and open source technology.

The university says it is also in discussion with several multinational companies on providing mentors, travel scholarships, field trips and work placement opportunities to supplement the course.