Local business leaders, Mars Food Australia, Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing and the University of Newcastle are joining together to support Year 10 students at Wyong High School in a mentoring program called P-TECH (Pathways in Technology).
Facilitated by Skilling Australia Foundation and launched at the University of Newcastle with students, teachers and parents in attendance, P-TECH is designed to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and improve employment outcomes for students.
Following student excursions to Sanitarium and Mars Food Australia to learn more about the local industry and potential career opportunities available to them, 49 STEM students have signed up to participate in P-TECH Electives, Certificate III in Information Digital Media Technology and Food Science and Technology in 2018.
Students will engage in group sessions and direct meetings with the Mars Food and Sanitarium mentors throughout the year.
Together, they will delve into the technical interests of the students, explore skills and qualifications required post-school to support the students in their career ambition, and develop enterprise skills such as problem-solving, communication and time management.
The Principal of Wyong High School, Rodney Hill, said P-TECH was a great way to connect local business with his students.
“We have a rich STEM industry on the Central Coast and we’re delighted to collaborate with business and professionals to set up the future workforce in the local community.”
Peter Crane, Research and Development Manager at Mars Food Australia said the program is a win-win situation for everyone involved:”We employ 320 outstanding people at our manufacturing facility in Wyong and a program like this helps us to not only share our skills and insights with potential leaders of tomorrow, but to also learn from the students and harness their energy and passion.”
The University of Newcastle’s Centre of Excellence and Equity in Higher Education Director Professor Penny Jane Burke said UON is a proud partner of P-TECH, and offers students bespoke and targeted STEM learning opportunities through programs delivered by CEEHE and on-campus experiences in food science at the Central Coast Campus at Ourimbah.
“Recognising and nurturing aspiration and capability for higher learning, and linking learning to research and local industries are values which UON shares with P-TECH,” said CEEHE Director, Professor Penny Jane Burke.
“UON recognises the important work of P-TECH in encouraging more Central Coast students to study STEM subjects at high school and university, and to consider careers in the growing local industries of food production and manufacturing and digital technology” For someone who had no interest in a career in an emerging technology, Year 9 Wyong High student, Marissa, did something of a backflip when she heard about P-TECH.
“The P-TECH program is giving me a different perspective on my school work. I had no interest in P-TECH until I learnt what it was, and now I have a new idea about the direction I can go in when I finish school,”Marissa said.
Wyong High is one of 14 schools nationally to participate in the P-TECH program in 2018, using modelling developed by IBM in the United States of America, and supported by the Federal Government of Australia.