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Businesses and education providers flock to school and industry roundtable

Committee for Echuca Moama was excited to help collaborate the Campaspe

Area School Industry Roundtable at Rich River Golf Club on August 23.

The day was a chance for education, industry and community members to explore the pathways needed for local schools to support industry needs now and into the future.

The aim was to develop connections between key Campaspe industry members and education providers to enable collaboration and improved communication, so they are better able to support each other and contribute to a sustainable, vibrant community.

Department of Education Area Executive Director Anne Cunniff summed it up perfectly: ‘what does industry need from education and what does education need from industry?’

Many ideas were discussed on the day with two discussion sessions allowing participants to collaborate on concerns, ideas and possible solutions.

The first roundtable question was ‘From your organisation’s perspective, what is the number one thing we need to connect schools and industry to help young people explore their options?’

Points raised included:

· more career staff in schools;

· better awareness of what industries were available in the community;

· making students aware of opportunities in the region, rather than focus on getting into university;

· the importance of students taking part in work experience;

· businesses being more pro-active and taking projects into schools;

· better support for students in the workplace; and

· creating a single point of contact for industry to education

The second roundtable question was ‘What specific ideas could we work on in partnerships to improve pathways for young people to attract skilled and enthusiastic people into industry?’

Points raised included:

· better partnering between schools and industry;

· creating a careers directory with key contacts;

· developing a youth employment support program for businesses;

· exposing students to industry at a younger age and highlighting industries that aren’t common;

· creating a taster program through Vocational Education and Training of different industries;

· a structured learner pathway which offers school leavers exposure to all facets of the business;

· creating a local jobs portal.

The day included presentations from Foodmach’s Tim Ford, HW Greenham’s Mark Garrad, Kyabram P-12 College’s Mitch Coombs and St Joseph's College Echuca, who all spoke about their success stories.

Tim said apprentices were the greatest part of workplace development and Foodmach was a perfect example of what could be achieved regionally. The engineering business employs 105 staff and manufactures machines for packaging lines in the food and beverage industries.

‘People don’t need to be in a major centre to do some really cool work,’ he said.

Mark said Greenham’s had worked closely with Kyabram P-12’s VCAL co-ordinator Mitch Coombs which included a tour of Greenham’s and what the processing plant offered.

‘We were able to gain three school-based apprenticeships out of that and were able to re-connect with the community which was great,’ Mark said.

Mitch said the day also included tours of Tongala’s Coprice factory, Tongala and District Memorial Aged Care Service, McColl’s Transport, the Shire of Campaspe Depot and SLTEC Fertilizers.

‘The priority was to expose kids to the industries,’ he said. ‘Students don’t know what they need to be successful in the workplace and what skills they need once they get there. It was great for the businesses to be able to speak to the kids about each industry.’

St Joseph’s College Echuca year 10 student Molly also spoke about her experience working on the Echuca Moama Affordable Housing Research Project in her visual communication class.

The project was funded by the University’s Hallmark Research Institute and was part of an intergenerational community visioning of affordable housing in the Echuca Moama region to support strategic and sustainable housing plans for the future.

It was inspiring to see so many people who were dedicated to improving connections and committed to exploring options which will transform the ways in which school and industry interact.

The day was a collaboration between C4EM, Campaspe Cohuna Local Learning and Employment Network, Campaspe Shire Council and Industry Training Hubs.

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