BY DR ROBIN BARNES
University College Course Coordinator for Applied Science
TASMANIA’S fast-growing industries need a skilled and agile workforce. Aquaculture is the fastest growing primary industry in the state. The Tasmanian industry currently employs an estimated 2,595 full-time equivalents (FTEs – inclusive of processing), a number that will likely continue to grow to support the industry’s exciting high growth phase.
The fermentation and separation industries include fermented food and beverage (beer, wine, gin, cider, whisky and cheese as well as other products) and premium bio-industries such as essential oils, poppies, and bio-fuel – all of which are extremely innovative and thriving industries to the Tasmanian economy.
These industries are areas of specialisation within the Associate Degree in Applied Science, offered at the University College. This unique degree is now in its second year of delivery. Both the aquaculture and fermentation science and separation processes specialisations were developed in close consultation with industry and designed to provide students with the skills that these industries are looking for in their employees.
Like many other sectors of the economy, these industries are under constant and rapid change; this requires a workforce that is dynamic, capable to facilitate growth and importantly, can easily adapt to change. The Associate Degree in Applied Science not only teaches the core scientific skills required to succeed in a wide range of industries but also includes key areas like project management, quality management, regulatory challenges and sustainability, as core units within the two-year course.
Essential transferable skills like communication, problem solving, decision making, teamwork, numeracy skills and critical thinking are all embedded within our coursework and assessments. University College students regularly network with members of industry and learn directly from guest speakers within tutorials. This applied nature of the course, coupled with a focus on developing transferable skills, provide our students with real-world learning opportunities where they can use their skills and gain real time feedback.
University College courses have all been designed to address local industry’s needs and the Associate Degree in Applied Science makes no exception. Addressing the current skills gaps in Tasmania’s rapidly changing economy is undeniably a key positive outcome but additionally, University College has also proven to offer a new accessible study pathway for prospective students. Associate Degrees provide a shorter and effective way for students to break into an industry by “getting a foot in the door” and gain experience through work placements. University College also provides an ideal option for many students to advance in their career, through practical, hands-on professional development that results in a recognised university qualification. The opportunity to both upskill and formalise one’s experience and knowledge are important elements to facilitate career progression.
When the first cohort of Applied Science students graduate at the end of the year, they will not only be equipped with the scientific knowledge and skills required by the aquaculture and fermentation and separation industries, but they will highly benefit from transferable skills needed to navigate their career in years to come.