Australia’s Federal Minister for Education and Training, The Hon. Simon Birmingham, addressed over 100 business leaders, students and community stakeholders at a P-TECH pilot launch in Edinburgh, North Adelaide earlier this month. Minister Birmingham talked about how the Year 9 students at the Geelong P-TECH have been participating in a taster year in 2016 and have now come to the key point of choosing the P-TECH stream as an elective for Year 10. Minister Birmingham said ‘I was delighted to hear – just this week – from Skilling Australia Foundation that around 30 of these Year 9 students have made the choice to take the P-TECH stream in Year 10 next year. And as luck would have it, 30 representatives from the five employer companies had offered up mentors”. The significance is that’s 30 students in Geelong who will be working closely with industry mentors on a pathway from school toward a real job.
Following the Minister’s address, a panel further discussed the progress of the P-TECH model in Australia and the engagement of educators, students and businesses in Geelong and Ballarat schools. The panelists were Jade Moffat and Steve Davies from IBM Australia and Janet Searle from Skilling Australia Foundation. Specialist comments were also provided by Bradley Sheridan who is head of STEM at St Patrick’s Technical College. Kerry Smith from Defence Teaming Centre also commented on how the program might come together in the newly forming South Australian P-TECH partnership. Rob Thomas, the school’s principal, encouraged local business interested in joining the program to make contact with the school. The program will commence at St Patrick’s in the first semester in 2017.