The University of Canberra and tertiary education provider Column 72 have joined forces to create a revolutionary workforce placement program for IT students pursuing a career in mainframe technology.

The Mainframe Trainee Program will combine the newly-formed Bachelor of Information and Mainframe Technology at University of Canberra with a three-year, paid learning program.

“The Mainframe Trainee Program is both academically sound and practical to meet industry needs and ensure that graduates are confident to handle complex problems of the future,” said University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Deep Saini.

“Students will complement their classroom learning with on-the-job experience at some of the biggest organisations in Canberra and around the country.

“This complete work-integrated learning experience is the latest example of the university’s ongoing commitment to providing students with high-quality, industry-based learning opportunities.”

As part of the program, successful applicants will work as a trainee for an IBM mainframe customer, being paid a trainee salary.

Some of IBM’s major mainframe customers and potential employers for students include the Australian Taxation Office, Department of Human Services, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Suncorp and Westpac.

Column 72 co-Director Paul Matthews said the program would provide students with the skills they need.

“The program will introduce the next generation of IT professionals to the IBM Z platform,” he said. “The skills they’ll develop will be in demand for as long as the industry demands leading-edge software when it comes to performance and security.”

Students will be given time off with full pay to attend summer school, while the employer will cover all university fees.

The entirety of the degree will be delivered through a combination of summer school and online learning.

To be eligible students must have completed the first year of an IT degree from an Australian university or a TAFE IT diploma or have relevant work experience.

The University of Canberra previously offered a Bachelor’s degree in mainframe technology from 2001 to 2011, graduating a total of 262 students.

The program will encourage new entrants into the ageing mainframe workforce.

BMC Software recently found that 47% of the mainframe workforce is over 50, and just 7% are aged under 30.

According to IBM, mainframes handle 87% of the world’s credit card transactions.