The economic strength of Asia and the growing integration of a global economy present many opportunities for Australia and the Geelong region.
Emerging sectors ripe with new opportunities include advanced manufacturing, technology, cyber security and medical technology to name a few.
For our local businesses to compete, they will need a highly skilled workforce in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). So it makes good sense to have young people entering the labour market with these skills and also what I call real world workplace skills. They are sadly the skills that some graduates are leaving our education system without. So where can young people get them?
The Australian Government has committed to piloting an innovative education model named P-TECH Pathways in Education at Newcomb Secondary college in Geelong and Federation College in Ballarat. It was wonderful to see the Prime Minster, Assistant Education Minister Simon Birmingham, employers and educators from across the region engaging with the Newcomb students at the launch last week.
The P-TECH model will offer students studying for their Senior Secondary Certificate an industry supported pathway to a STEM-related diploma, advanced diploma or associate degree. These students can then continue their study at the tertiary level or pursue employment in a STEM-related field, including with the school’s industry partners.
The P-TECH model began in New York and now operates in 40 schools across the US. It is providing high school students with an industry-supported pathway into STEM careers.
I arranged for Committee for Geelong chairman Dan Simmonds to visit a P-TECH school in Brooklyn. This school is a partnership between the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and a US-based technology company, and is producing some excellent results.
He was excited to see the P-TECH pilot begin in the Geelong region.
The learning program has a unique set of elements including an innovative curriculum design, a different approach to learning, industry mentoring and support, access for students to undertake a post-school qualification and links to employment through supported pathways. And it’s these industry-supported pathways that will strengthen employment prospects.
As a member of the Committee for Geelong, the Skilling Australia Foundation has been pleased with the response and enthusiasm from the local educators and business community.
Committee for Geelong members, including Sky Software and Barwon Health, will join the pilot in 2016 and the foundation is in active discussions with others interested in joining the program, including GMHBA, Bendigo Bank and The Gordon.
Nicholas Wynam is the CEO of the Skilling Australia Foundation. He joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott on his tour of a P-TECH school in the US in 2014. The Australian Government has engaged the Skilling Australia Foundation to assist local stakeholders work on development of the model.