Wyong High School’s primary industry resources along with a STEM-focused academic program that connects industry with education is providing career opportunities for local students.
Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) is a world-leading educational model that offers high school students an industry-supported pathway to a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related qualification.
The Australian Government has invested in a P-TECH pilot and has engaged Skilling Australia Foundation (SAF) to help local stakeholders work together to develop and implement the program. Focused on Food Science, and Information Technology pathways, Wyong High is one of the 14 pilot schools.
P-TECH is all about collaboration between education, industry and community. Mars Food Australia, Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing and IBM Australia are the local industry partners.They provide students with group mentoring, collaborative project based workshops, industry tours, work experience and career opportunities.
Heidi Bennett, People and Culture Partner at Sanitarium says P-TECH is a “great way to connect with the next generation of our workforce, hopefully futureproofing our business with people that have aspirations for careers in our industry on the Central Coast”.
Supporting pathways to post-school qualifications, tertiary education partner, The University of Newcastle offer students hands-on learning opportunities and opportunities to participate in Food Showcase Expo and the Illuminate Challenge that give them a taste for study at university and the diverse careers available.
The P-TECH program sees Year 9 students immersed in STEM-based activities. From Year 10, students can choose to enrol in a P-TECH pathway.
At Wyong High School, the P-TECH streams identified are a Food Science and Technology elective and Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology. These courses create pathways to meaningful careers in areas of projected need for the local region’s future workforce.
SAF Industry Liaison Officer Jillian Williams said, “The P-TECH program opens students’ eyes and allows them to explore career pathways they never knew existed within the Partnership and beyond.”
Last year, 146 students took part in immersion activities and of those students 52 are now enrolled in a P-TECH pathway for 2018. This year, over 148 Year 9 students have undertaken immersion activities i cluding coding and programming, sensory testing, and factory tours.
P-TECH Mentor from Mars Food Australia, Emma Satchell, turned her passion for food technology into her career, currently working as a Product Development Technologist. “The P-TECH program gives me an opportunity to encourage students to follow their passion for food science and keep interest in the food industry alive,” Emma says.
Well set up to grow produce for the Food Science P-TECH pathway, the school has its own extensive agriculture culture farm on site, which includes heated seedling beds, shaded gardens and a full irrigation system. Aquaculture is also prominent at the school, with plans to bring in more fingerlings such as rainbow trout and barramundi.