Defence industry program arms students with key skills

Wednesday, 04 September 2013

Defence industry program arms students with key skillsA defence sector bid to increase Western Australia’s pool of graduates with the relevant skills to enter the defence industry is benefiting from a program in which Challenger Institute is a key partner.

With the advent of the WA Department of Education School Pathways Program (Defence Industries) and its partnership with Challenger, viable engineering and electronics training pathways have been successfully implemented for secondary school students.

WA represents 10 per cent of Australia’s defence industry infrastructure and plays an important role in supporting and sustaining the capabilities of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), notably the ANZAC Frigates and Collins Class Submarines based at Garden Island. The state’s defence industry is comprised of a broad range of firms with expertise across areas including maritime and aerospace sustainment, communications, subsea-systems, cyber security, radars and systems integration.
 
A focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics is the key to the defence industries training.
 
Over the past three years, students have been involved in several School Pathways Program initiatives. These include engineering and trade mathematics short courses, try-a-trades and try-a-technology initiatives, all of which lead to opportunities in school-based traineeships in engineering and electrotechnology in defence and allied industry workplaces.
 
Challenger’s Gail Manton, program manager of the School Pathways Program, said the partnership between the School Pathways Program and Challenger had been pivotal to the success of the program.
 
“Students and teachers representing schools participating in the School Pathways Program have benefited from the close working relationship with Challenger and its teaching expertise in engineering and electronics at several campuses and more recently at the Fremantle Maritime Industries Trade Training Centre.”
 
Challenger is a training and industry partner for the Fremantle Maritime Industries Trade Training Centre consortium, established to help increase the proportion of students achieving Year 12 or an equivalent qualification to 85 per cent by 2015 and 90 per cent by 2020. An important step towards achieving these goals is to ensure students have access to high quality education and training opportunities that continue to engage them and encourage them to complete their studies.
 
Mason Conway (16), of Success, said he was only a few months into his year-long course but already it had helped to confirm his career ambitions.
 
“My uncle was a major influence in encouraging me to pursue a career as a boilermaker and metalworker and learning about the trade and the defence industry and having the chance to work with my hands has convinced me I’m on the right path,” Mason said.
 
Angus Timmins (16), of Fremantle, is a year 11 student full of praise for the defence industries program.
 
“The course has given me the opportunity to pursue my interest in metalwork, which I really enjoy at school. I’m learning all about the defence industries and the opportunities that might exist there. I’d love the chance to eventually use my skills working in the marine construction environment,” Angus said.
 
Students who obtain qualifications relevant to the WA defence industry stand to benefit from the opportunities offered by a growing industry sector. The Defence Materiel Organisation, responsible for defence force acquisitions, advises that the ADF will upgrade or replace 80 per cent of its equipment and capability in the next 10-15 years.
 
PHOTO CAPTION:  The School Pathways Program has helped hone Mason Conway’s career focus.
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