Earn and learn to fast-track software engineering careers for school leavers

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
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WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC) has opened applications for its 2025 Earn & Learn program to help nurture Australia’s future technologists.

WiseTech’s Earn & Learn program was established in 2023 with an intake of 30 students. In 2024, 52 students joined the program. WiseTech is one of Australia’s most successful technology companies and is inviting year 12 graduates to apply for its 2025 intake of the program, which will offer at least 100 students a place.

The program combines theoretical learning at university with a full-time wage, with attendees working at WiseTech, where they can learn and apply skills in a real-world environment. As the leading developer and provider of software solutions to the global logistics industry, students who have the opportunity to work at WiseTech will study a specially crafted blend of university coursework and content delivered through the WiseTech Academy.

Working towards software engineering expertise

“The WiseTech Earn & Learn program gives talented students the opportunity to learn rapidly, apply knowledge and build proficiency and fluency, while simultaneously learning theory from lectures and study at university and in the WiseTech Academy. No amount of pure theory or study, by itself, will make a top-notch software engineer,” says Richard White, CEO and founder of WiseTech Global.

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“Typically, the successful applicants work 80-90 per cent of the time on commercially important projects alongside senior software engineers and architects, and perhaps 10-20 per cent of the time on study. We select students who are motivated, highly intelligent, curious, love learning and solving problems and want to make a difference to the world. Earn & Learn and WiseTech Global will accelerate their technology career progression and will be economically and professionally miles ahead of other pathways.”

Mr White says the company is excited that “27 per cent of our 2024 Earn and Learn cohort are female” – a figure he says is substantially higher than the current participation rate for female software engineers in undergraduate programs.

“The reality is that Australia needs to attract more school leavers to high value technology careers. Key to that is creating environments that welcome and support students from a wide range of backgrounds who have the aptitude, passion and curiosity to become technologists,” says Mr White.

“Last year’s intake, who are now in their second year, are among the mentors for this years’ intake, ensuring new students are surrounded by peers they can relate to and learn from, as well as senior software engineers who can provide the deeper insights required in a rapid learning environment.”

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Accelerated tertiary study on-the-job

Sophia Nguyen joined the Earn & Learn program in 2023 and says learning in the workplace has accelerated her university study:

“It’s a misconception that software engineers must work in isolation on their part of a project. Working at WiseTech, we learn that throughout development it’s really important to communicate and work together – with other students, our mentors and teammates,” Ms Nguyen says.

“You need to be really collaborative – that’s a business skill you won’t get at uni. Applying coding theory in the real world helps you pick it up more quickly – especially with so many mentors available to help us get back on track when we get stuck. I have even been able to help some of my friends at uni. It’s very exciting when your code goes into production and will make a difference for someone.”

Under the four-year program, each student receives a competitive salary, reimbursement of university course fees, multiple grants of share rights as they progress through the program and access to a range of employee benefits. Students also participate in WiseTech’s rotation program, working across different teams and projects to experience and develop skills under the guidance of senior software engineers.

Practical experience provides career pathway edge

Earn & Learn was envisioned by WiseTech CEO and founder Richard White, who remains highly engaged in the program’s design and objectives. The program is led by Matthew Kameron, a former school leader and teacher of mathematics and computer science, and a lead software engineer who draws on his unique background to create an environment that fosters a passion for problem solving through coding.

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“Enabling gifted students is a key ingredient in our mission to increase access to tech careers in Australia. Our focus is to provide an environment that will help them become amazing software engineers and to provide them all the support they need to get there,” says Mr Kameron.

“The combination of intensive study at WiseTech and university, combined with their experience in a variety of our development teams, gives them a vastly superior opportunity, educationally and economically, than anything else in Australia and, I think, the world. Many of our students were described by our most experienced senior software engineers as being already as strong as a university graduate. At the end of their induction and initial team experiences, they will join a team permanently while continuing their university study – and become mentors to next year’s intake.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live