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Industry collaboration offers futures in STEM

STEMship graduates
A group of TAFE NSW students are one step closer to jobs of the future thanks to a collaboration between some of the Hunter’s most innovative firms.
Recently, 16 young men and women undertook work experience in STEM-related disciplines and graduated from the 2017 STEMship (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship). The 17 week pre-apprenticeship training program provided students with the skills and expertise that would prepare them for future careers.
STEMship is a collaboration between TAFE NSW, NSW State Government departments of Industry (Training Services NSW) and Premier and Cabinet, and Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter. The program is also supported by industry partners, offering participants work-experience placements during the STEMship.
Downer Group’s National Apprentice Program Co-ordinator, Shane Snook, said the opportunity to be involved provided employers with the chance to tap into a select group of candidates who are gaining desirable skills and knowledge in vocational education and training (VET).
“Our support of the STEMship is part of our corporate social responsibility and community engagement, but it is also an opportunity for Downer to give STEMship participants real-life work experience so they can see what it is going to be like embarking on a career with our organisation,” he said. Mr Snook believes this type of training is critical to the future workforce.
“We rely on the VET system, in particular TAFE, across the nation to train our workforce,” Mr Snook said. “There is a push for students to be funneled into university, but I see a future where VET will become more prominent, particularly with new technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.
“In the future a young person will need to have a range of skills sets that are transferable, including soft skills. They will need to be adaptable in a marketplace that is going to be global. It’s a pretty exciting time.
“I’m a firm believer that it’s the right person for the right job; it doesn’t matter whether they have matriculated at year 12 or year 10. The primary things we are looking for are motivation, attitudes, being teachable and working well as part a team.”