Blockchain Collective is a leading blockchain education body empowering enterprise, educators and students for a future in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. According to Austin, the collective was founded based on the demand of the local industry.
"Blockchain Collective really was born from a need of experts rather than a want of developing education. We saw that there was no one — there was no blockchain strategists, so there was no planners or managers or anything like that. Once we realized that there wasn't anything anywhere, we also realized that someone had to do it," Austin said.
"We were already working in the space, we were dealing with experts all over the world. We pulled them together, we found out what those companies needed. They needed the people that could map the strategy, have a solid understanding of blockchain, and be able to map everything backwards and forwards," he continued.
Based on this insight, the Blockchain Collective was born. Before long the collective started looking for an education partner to deliver leading-edge qualifications in applied blockchain — enter TAFE Queensland.
"I'm really excited about the partnership with TAFE Queensland and the opportunity to be able to work together to up-skill, re-skill, and actually have job-ready people around applied blockchain in the emerging tech space," Austin said.
The partnership has seen TAFE Queensland offer two blockchain courses, both focused on the business thinking behind blockchain rather than the technical skills.
"As far as the courses go, we've got the diploma and advanced diploma of applied blockchain. There's also units in the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data. Really, it's how blockchain is the infrastructure layer that interconnects these other emerging technologies," he said.
While the courses are more focused on strategic thinking than coding skills, there's no shortage of practical applications that students are exposed to.
"The curriculum is project-based, it's not technical, and I think that's a really important thing for people to understand — it's not a technical coding course," Austin said.
"It's the business thinking, it's the application, it's the critical thinking around taking something, everything from being an idea all the way through to be able to execute and actually hand off."
It's these specialised skills that are currently in high-demand in Australia, and around the world.
"One of the biggest skills shortages in Australia is around technology and emerging technologies. Australia needs to compete on a global stage. The way they're going to compete on a global stage is by having those skilled people in Australia, and also having the opportunities for people to come to Australia to get those skills that have been recognized on a global scale," he said.
"For Australia to keep up, for someone to be able to actually up-skill or re-skill or come out of school and go, 'Hang on, I can actually be job-ready in a year,' that's exciting. That was the outcome that we're looking for, and that's the outcome that these students are getting," he said.
It's fair to say that Austin is pretty excited about the partnership with TAFE Queensland and about playing a part in training the next generation of blockchain professionals.
"It's a partnership that, especially around when TAFE Queensland's really stepping up their game as far as moving into the emerging tech space, I think it makes for a huge opportunity. That has a knock-on effect to having huge outcomes for the students coming through."
It's those student outcomes that Austin is really passionate about and demonstrate how valuable the training is in meeting the needs of the local industry.
"The students are actually coming out with a portfolio, and a lot of them are getting recruited early, which is a great outcome," Austin said.
"It's exciting, what more can I say?"