The centrepiece of the partnership is the proposed creation of a new IBM Client Innovation Centre (CIC), with its regional hub based in Bathurst.
When operational, the CIC aims to employ in excess of 300 professionals, and support IBM client demand across Australia, delivering technical expertise and ‘hot skills’ in areas such as data science, cyber-security, AI and hybrid cloud.
Also planned are scholarships that will offer Charles Sturt students the opportunity to participate in meaningful industry work experience at the CIC, designed to fast-track the student’s post-study employment opportunities.
The partnership with IBM will grow and strengthen Charles Sturt’s applied research capability in cybersecurity, data and digital services, delivering additional value and innovation to Australian businesses.
IBM will also assist in the co-creation of courses, focused on the intersection of technology and business transformation for innovation.
On-site at Charles Sturt’s Bathurst campus for the announcement, NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Member for Bathurst, the Hon. Paul Toole (pictured centre), said the NSW Government’s $130 million Regional Job Creation Fund is helping Charles Sturt University and IBM to support local jobs and economies.
“IT is a future-facing industry, and it’s fantastic to see a company like IBM setting up a base of operations in the bush, busting the myth that you have to live in Sydney if you want a career in technology,” Mr Toole said.
“Setting up a Regional Innovation Centre at Charles Sturt University will provide the Central West with greater job opportunities, by offering opportunities closer to home now and into the future.
“The NSW Government’s investment is helping new and existing companies grow, relocate or establish their businesses in regional areas in order to support local jobs, local economies and local communities.”
Katrina Troughton, Managing Director, IBM Australia and New Zealand (pictured right), said the digital skills crisis in Australia, which has been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19, demanded new ways of approaching skilling and hiring. This includes expanding and developing ‘pools of potential' across regional Australia, as well as providing students first-hand experience working with industry on real-world challenges.
“Students today must have digital acumen and literacy to be able to fully contribute to and participate in tomorrow’s digital economy. Industry-academic partnerships, such as the one we are co-creating with Charles Sturt University, and other higher learning institutions across Australia, are key to providing deeper, more relevant experience that will better equip students to enter today’s workforce,” she said.
“We know diversity of thought fuels innovation and ultimately the advancement of Australian’s societal and economic growth. That is why the diversity of the Bathurst and Charles Sturt University community is so important to IBM.
“By building and developing diverse and regional talent pools we can help to address the nation’s critical tech skills gap and drive Australia’s economic recovery.”
Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Renée Leon (pictured left), said the partnership was indicative of the University’s strategic commitment to collaborate with industry, government, and the community to entrench the University as a true anchor institution in regional Australia.
“This is a historic partnership for regional NSW, one which will create a wealth of opportunities for Charles Sturt University’s students, teaching staff and researchers, as well as the regional communities we proudly support,” she said.
“Through this partnership there will be scholarships and work placements available to students, ensuring Charles Sturt University’s IT and Business graduates will be among the most skilled and sought-after in Australia.
“I want to thank IBM Australia for their collaboration in seeking to establish this partnership, which is evidence of how Charles Sturt University is advancing the careers of our students, inspiring impactful research and driving regional outcomes with global impact.”
NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, the Hon. Geoff Lee, said the partnership is an excellent example of effective collaboration between industry and the higher education sector that will help build important skills for our students and lifelong learners and deliver strong research outcomes for the state.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting innovative partnerships between our universities and the business community. This collaboration will provide regional students with pathways into meaningful work in a growth industry, while delivering cutting-edge research in an important and evolving field,” he said.
“It is vital that regional students have the same access to work-integrated learning and employment opportunities that students in the cities have.
“It’s great to see Charles Sturt University and IBM leading the way in providing these opportunities for regional students, and I commend the partnership for its focus on increasing industry participation of First Nations students.”
The partnership between IBM and Charles Sturt University is modelled on a similar alliance IBM has with Federation University in regional Victoria which celebrated 25 years in December 2020.
An economic impact report conducted by Western Research Institute showed that the partnership contributed $629 million in economic value to the Victorian economy between 2018-2019 and that IBM’s presence delivered $124 million to the state’s gross product, plus 711 jobs and $62 million in household income.
Bathurst Regional Council General Manager, Mr David Sherley, said the council welcomed and fully supported the partnership, which will greatly benefit the community into the future.
“Council is enthusiastic about the opportunities this venture will bring to both individuals and businesses in the region,” he said.
“Bathurst has a thriving and resilient business community that continues to grow and provide a valuable contribution to the region’s economy.
“The partnership is in line with Council’s Smart Community strategy where technology, data and people are used to drive economic activity, improve connectivity, meet the changing needs of the community, accelerate innovation, and better manage resources.”