Fishburners and La Trobe launch new program to effectively skill students

Australia’s original startup community Fishburners has partnered with La Trobe University to give students access to the Australian startup ecosystem through the launch of the “International Student Experiential Learning Ecosystem” program. La Trobe University will be designing and facilitating the program, however the Learning Ecosystem is open to all students, domestic and international, from a range of universities across Australia.

What does the Learning Ecosystem program entail?

There is no prior experience required for program participants and over 100 students are expected to participate in the program, funded by the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations (NFACR). The Learning Ecosystem is free for participants, and aims to upskill students by allowing them to work with a startup or SME on a complex business challenge.

To do this, students first complete an 8 hour self-led BootCamp via Fishburners’ virtual platform, Founders Hub, to learn skills around entrepreneurship, critical thinking, complex problem solving, and teamwork. Students then work in small groups with a startup or SME of their choosing on one of their business challenges, applying their skills from the BootCamp and working as a team to produce a solution which they then present to their host startup.

The program is designed to address Australia’s national skills shortage by giving students the necessary work experience, problem-solving skills, industry connections, mentorship, learning resources, and ecosystem access needed in order to enter and thrive in the job market.

The program is being run on the Fishburners Founder’s Hub platform, which was built around Fishburners’ extensive experience running startup programs, providing students and operators with a centralised platform to access all the program related information and content. The Hub has been designed with the capability of hosting accelerator programs.

This is in addition to giving users – including Learning Ecosystem participants – access to its library of learning resources, tools, mentorship, perks, discounts, events, and the Fishburners growing startup community itself. By removing entry barriers to the startup ecosystem, Fishburners and La Trobe University hope to help students improve their student experience, while ensuring their education contributes to their job readiness and career advancement.

What does the program mean for stakeholders?

Martin Karafilis, CEO of Fishburners, commented: “As Australia continues to grapple with a skills shortage, it’s more important than ever to equip students with the skills needed to navigate a hyper-competitive job market, or even start their own businesses and startups.”

“We believe that with access to the right resources, mentorship and community, students can build skills that they can transfer to any environment. We want to make everyone feel welcome and a part of Australia, regardless of their background, experience, or aspirations.”

Dr Stacey Farraway, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Future Growth at La Trobe University
Dr Stacey Farraway, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Future Growth at La Trobe University

Dr Stacey Farraway, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Future Growth at La Trobe University, commented: “The program has been co-designed with a range of academic and industry partners to enhance learning outcomes for students. The Ecosystem comes with the support of a consortium of MBA Alumni mentors, the established Australia-Chinese business community, the Chinese diaspora, and a network of universities and industry partners.”

“Students will identify challenges, offer impactful solutions, and implement their skills in a commercial context – increasing their understanding of the multitude of dynamic factors that real-world strategies must endure and overcome,” Dr Stacey Farraway further added.

Other participating universities include the University of Adelaide, University of Technology Sydney, Australian National Catholic University, University of Southern Queensland, University of Western Australia, Charles Darwin University, and University of Tasmania.

Students interested the program can apply for the 2023 Semester 2 intake here.