An innovative program to boost high school students’ chances of working in emerging tech careers has attracted the attention of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, who toured the Port Stephens Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) site today to get a closer look.
Dr Finkel visited BAE Systems Australia, an international aerospace and defence technology business and an industry partner in the P-TECH program based at Hunter River High. Originating in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011, P-TECH has since spread across the US and is now in Australia, with the first pilot sites starting in Victoria in 2016.
The Commonwealth Department of Education and Training has provided $5.1 million to implement the P-TECH pilot, and over the next four years P-TECH will be operating in 14 sites across Australia.
BAE Systems showed Dr Finkel through its facility, where the RAAF’s Lead In Fighter is maintained and where P-TECH students are able to experience first-hand the opportunities a qualification in Aviation, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing can provide.
Aerospace Senior Maintenance Manager John Frasier said: “Working for an industry at the forefront of high tech engineering provides us with a responsibility to nurture and inspire the next generation of employees.
The students here today will benefit from programs such as this that will allow them to pursue the most challenging careers in aerospace and gain world leading skills locally.”
Dr Finkel was joined by representatives from other P-TECH industry partners including Varley, Ampcontrol and Jetstar.
The Australian P-TECH model was developed by non-profit organisation, the Skilling Australia Foundation, who continue to play a key role administering the program and assisting local stakeholders to work together to deliver a successful program at all sites.
The foundation’s co-founder and CEO, Nicholas Wyman, said: “Partnerships between education and industry are crucial to the success of this innovative program. It allows students to engage with the world of work and gives them a clear link between their learning and post-school pathways.
“What’s really exciting is that P-TECH will allow these schools to specialise and become centres of excellence in their chosen STEM pathway. More than 75% of Australia’s new and emerging industries demand solid STEM skills.”
Varley’s HR Manager, Jan Dobbie said: “It is clear that the students and the school community are inspired and engaged. It is also clear there is significant external interest in the program.”
Year 10 students at Hunter River High, Tiane and Gabby, are enthusiastic about their recent visit to the F-35 facility: “Our guides [at BAE Systems] showed us the insides of the Lead-in Fighter Hawks as well as letting us see the production line of these beasts. We felt so excited. We could have run a marathon. To us, this will be forever in our memory and the start of a passion for our own P-TECH journey at school.”
A leading defence prime has partnered with Hunter River High School for the government’s Pathway in Technology (P-Tech) pilot program that will help Hunter students prepare for a career in the aerospace sector.
BAE Systems Australia, along with Varley Group, Jetstar and Ampcontrol, has partnered with the NSW school for the program, which BAE said expands on the company’s involvement with Regional Development Australia.
Over 50 year 11 and 12 students will undertake aeroskills studies in four Hunter schools in 2018. Their studies will be complemented by work experience at BAE Systems Williamtown, where the RAAF’s Lead-In Fighter Hawk jet aircraft is currently maintained.
BAE Systems Australia aerospace director Steve Drury said the defence company’s involvement in the region with the Lead-In Fighter Hawk jet offers locals the opportunity to pursue an aerospace career in the region.
“We have secured long-term work at Williamtown supporting Australia’s national F-35 fleet,” Drury said.
“This means that students who have grown up and studied locally can now target a long-term aerospace career in the region.”
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel will meet with students who have undertaken work experience with BAE Systems during a tour of the company’s facilities.
Image: HUNTER River High School students have completed the first year of the inaugural Pathways to Technology Program (P-TECH) ahead of further studies in 2018.
The Year 9 and 10 students were among the first in Australia to study the P-TECH program that will qualify them for further studies in years 11 and 12, closely aligned with the aerospace industry in Williamtown.
Through P-TECH, the school has partnered with major local employers Ampcontrol Group, BAE Systems, Jetstar Airways, the Varley Group, University of Newcastle and RDA Hunter.
The program included a weekly workshop that even put students in contact with the F/A-18 Hornets – which students said they would “never forget”.
“I was working with [a classmate] on the coding to go with the air pressure pump, which was pretty cool,” Joanna Downey said.
“I got to see firsthand how one would go about programming their name on an LCD screen using simple codes.
“It was hard to get the hang of it, but once I got it, it was great fun.” For Joanna, who’s got a taste for the aerospace industry, that day was packed with highlights.
“I later went down to air flight,” she said.
“They fix and replace parts for the ejection seats and their parachutes.” Skilling Australia created the program that has now been rolled out to 1000 students across 14 schools nationwide.
From next year students will be able to undertake pathways in advanced manufacturing and engineering starting with a Certificate I in Engineering or a pathway in aero skills, commencing with a Cert II in Aero Skills (Statement of Attainment only), or a Cert III in Aviation – remote pilot.
“What’s really exciting is that P-TECH will allow these schools to specialise and become a Centre of Excellence in their chosen STEM pathway,” CEO and co-founder Nicholas Wyman said.
“More than 75 per cent of Australia’s new and emerging industries demand solid STEM skills.”