After establishing Australia’s first fully accredited blockchain course in 2018 and with a machine learning offering in the wings, education provider Blockchain Collective has ambitions to turn the Gold Coast into a major tech training centre to attract the nation's best and brightest.
Partnering with public and private training providers Saltera Training and TAFE Queensland to create and run the Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Applied Blockchain vocational training, the Surfers Paradise-based educational body is aiding businesses to advance how blockchain is implemented on a global scale.
Designed by experts to service a growing industry demand for talented blockchain professionals, the courses focus on application and strategy rather than technical coding, providing graduates with the practical skills to effectively implement the technology into new and existing business frameworks.
“We were doing stuff in the blockchain space, and we realised that no one anywhere in the world had any sort of accredited curriculum; it was pretty much all cowboys,” Blockchain Collective co-founder Austin Lewinsmith said.
“We didn’t really decide to get into education. We were just trying to solve our problems, which included coming up against people who didn’t really know what they were talking about but sold themselves as a blockchain strategist or a blockchain planner, only to find the reality was that they’d really only watched a lot of YouTube videos.
“Once we realised that, we realised we could create a standard. Blockchain is going to be used as the spine that interconnects a lot of the other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things, machine learning and cyber. There needs to be rigour and governance and standards around that.”
Founded in 2017 by Lewinsmith and business partner Nathan Burns, blockchain has previously been widely associated with cryptocurrency, where the technology securely stores information electronically in digital format.
However, the potential for blockchain technology doesn’t end with the crypto space. Lewinsmith is surprised at the number of people who do not appreciate how much blockchain has infiltrated modern tech processes.
A blockchain collects information together in groups, known as blocks, that hold sets of information. When they reach their storage capacity, they are closed and linked to other blocks, forming a chain of data known as the blockchain.
“Where the internet was the beginning of the transfer of information, blockchain is really the beginning of the transfer of value,” said Lewinsmith, who believes the key innovation of blockchain is that it guarantees a secure record of data and offers transparency and traceability of information.
“Blockchain and DLT (distributed ledger technology) is literally a record of who owns what.”
He said that beyond Bitcoin, the applications for the technology are exploding, with accounting firms, legal firms, engineering firms, and even transport and logistic organisations now among the industries embracing the power of blockchain technology to help their businesses efficiently and securely transmit and transact.
“There are two clear sides to blockchain – the technical side and the applied side. The technical side moves very quickly, and is the coding. The applied side is the business thinking around the application,” he said.
After its successful roll-out, TAFE Queensland decided to add the course to Queensland’s JobTrainer Fund priority course list.
“The JobTrainer Fund is jointly funded by the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments to support people through no-fee or low-fee training in areas that have strong employment prospects and will help drive our economy forward,” Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said.
“Offering cutting-edge training without a significant cost barrier is a fantastic way to make Queensland a workforce leader on how to adapt or develop business models to take best advantage of blockchain’s potential and navigate the planning and implementation process.”
Citing Gold-Coast-based fintech innovator AgUnity, which is helping to change global agricultural practices and Everledger, a track and trace platform for ethical diamonds, Lewinsmith says blockchain could produce a groundswell of innovation for businesses.
“Australia is very highly regarded around the world for its standard of education and the Gold Coast is an amazing place for students to come to, mixed with a very vibrant start-up hub here on the Gold Coast that is evolving in the tech scene specifically,” he said.
“I believe the Gold Coast has the potential to be the tech hub for Australia. We’ve got a lot of the right support coming in from industry and government and players in the space who are making an impact. It’s exciting.”
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