For the future workforce: Monash to bridge key IT skill gaps through Next Gen Graduate Programs

With strong support from industry and in partnership with Monash Data Futures Institute, the Faculty of IT at Monash University will be leading and contributing to three projects in CSIRO Data61’s Next Gen Graduates Programs – ready to deliver critical skills in artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging tech.

The cohort-based, industry-driven, cross-disciplinary training program focuses on expanding the pipeline of homegrown, job-ready graduates to unlock the immense economic opportunities offered by AI and emerging technologies. Students in the program will be embedded in industry, working on breakthrough solutions to research problems co-designed by end users.

‘AI, machine learning, cybersecurity, blockchain, quantum computing – these are the technologies of the future. And they’re completely transforming how the world works. It’s therefore integral that the next generation of specialists are confident and equipped to harness their potential.’ said Professor Ann Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of IT at Monash University.

Receiving over $4.2M in Federal government and industry partner funding, the multidisciplinary projects will get students hands-on in tackling challenges with real-world impact.

‘This program, and the multitude of organisational partnerships within each project, will help us create a more strategic, rich and holistic training environment to nurture graduates in these new essential IT skills.’ continued Professor Nicholson.

Currently there are two CSIRO Next Gen Graduate Programs, one dedicated to AI and the other emerging technologies.

‘Considering Monash's thought leadership in AI, data science and emerging tech, along with Monash Data Futures Institute hosting one of the largest cohorts of world-class AI and data science experts in the Asia Pacific, we are well placed to support students and contribute to a larger multidisciplinary program of work aimed at solving real-world challenges’, said Professor Joanna Batstone, Director of the Monash Data Futures Institute.

NEXT GEN GRADUATE PROGRAM PROJECTS

Within the two programs, Monash is leading and contributing to three multidisciplinary projects.

AI in Mental Health
(Next Generation AI Graduates Program)

Leads: Dr Roisin McNaney, Action Lab, Faculty of IT and Associate Professor Marie Yap, Turner Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Professor Jianfei Cai, Department of Data Science and AI, Faculty of IT.
Key partners: University of Melbourne, Monash University Malaysia, CSIRO, Together AI, Turning Point, headspace, Orygen, Outcome Health, MediAI, Monash Health, Women’s Mental Health Clinic and AWS

Mental health concerns are experienced by almost half of Australians, making it one of society’s most significant health challenges. Timely access to treatment is a notable issue both in the country and worldwide.

Equipping tomorrow’s researchers with expertise in applied AI and mental health, this program will train 20 PhD and master’s students from Monash University, University of Melbourne and Monash University Malaysia (funded by MUM).

Each student will undertake an industry placement, contributing to key strategic priorities within their partner organisations while gaining first-hand experience in healthcare and IT.

The program will deliver new AI-driven models of care and innovative digital solutions that will support Australians with their mental health.

Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning: Technology Development and Adoption
(Next Generation Emerging Technologies Graduates Program)

Leads: Dr Xingliang Yuan, Associate Professor Joseph Liu and Associate Professor Reza Haffari, Monash Faculty of IT, and Associate Professor Zongyuan Ge, Monash eResearch Centre
Key partners: RMIT University, CSIRO, eBay, Ansen Innovation, and Eyetelligence

This program aims to build a national workforce in designing Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning (PPML) techniques and systems to secure both end-user data and machine learning models under real-world scenarios and challenges.

With a cohort of honours, master’s and PhD students from Monash University and RMIT University, it will generate industry-oriented research collaborations and graduate training programs that align with the primary focuses of partner organisations – and the wider IT, e-commerce, medical, energy and building sectors.

The outcomes of this program will ease the privacy concerns in ML-based projects, and pave a way towards broad market adoption of PPML to make it an integral part of the next generation Australian digital economy and society.

Building National Cybersecurity Capabilities for Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
(Next Generation Emerging Technologies Graduates Program)

Lead: Professor Yang Xiang, Swinburne University of Technology Monash Lead: Professor John Grundy, Faculty of IT
Key partners: Monash Faculty of IT, UNSW, James Cook University, DXC, Amazon, ASTA and Sysbox

Driven by real needs from industry partners, this initiative aims to address the grand cybersecurity challenges faced by Australian manufacturers.

Connecting cybersecurity experts with high-calibre graduate students, this initiative will build sovereign national cyber capabilities to secure business-critical manufacturing systems.

The research team will provide leading facilities and expertise to support students deliberately recruited from diverse backgrounds. They will be trained in the key skills of tomorrow so they can become leaders in the discipline and make a significant impact to the country’s economy.

Outcomes of the project will also enable manufacturers to be more resilient amidst the digital transformation Australia is currently experiencing.

More about the Next Generation Graduate Programs

CSIRO has estimated that Australia will need up to 161,000 new AI specialists and AI savvy workers by 2030. RMIT and Deloitte have also highlighted 156,000 digital and emerging technology workers needed by 2025 to support the recovery from the recession driven by COVID-19.

The Next Generation Graduate Programs are part of the Australian Government's Digital Economy Strategy and Artificial Intelligence Action Plan,

They will see students tap into their diverse skill sets to create a rich and vibrant research environment.