More young people are now employed in apprenticeships and technical traineeships across the Hunter region following the completion of the 2018 STEMship program.

An initiative of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter and supported by the State Government through Defence NSW, Training Services and TAFE NSW, STEMship is a vocational education and training (VET) pre-employment program that offers senior school students the opportunity to study with TAFE NSW and learn skills on-the-job as a pathway to employment and/or further study.

Last night saw the graduation of the 14 strong 2018 cohort who, as part of the program, completed 14 weeks of training in a Certificate III Engineering course at TAFE NSW Newcastle that included the design, creation and manufacture of a product utilising advanced technologies and 4 weeks work placement with Hunter industry. The graduation event was held at TAFE NSW Newcastle and was attended by Government, education and industry representatives as well as participants’ families.

Participants were matched to Hunter industry based on their skills and interests and undertook work-experience in STEM and defence sectors in roles as diverse as shipwright, electrician, diesel mechanic and systems engineer

Two of the 14 participants gained employment with their host companies prior to the completion of the program: Caleb Newitt in a Mechanical Automotive Apprenticeship with Kloster Ford (Newcastle), Mason Mangovski at Obelisk Systems (Maitland) while Samuel Pickles is being considered for a traineeship with EDC Consulting (Newcastle), Zane Folpp is in the final stages of the employment process with Bloomfield Collieries and Liam Symes has enrolled in CIV Engineering at Newcastle TAFE.

“2018 is another great result for our STEMship program which has, since its commencement in 2016, seen 65% of participants gain employment with participating industry partners. The program’s success is based on its industry-led format whereby industry communicates its skills needs to us and we respond by facilitating a tailored TAFE NSW course and on-the-job work placement. This leads to skilled and job-ready employees,” said RDA Hunter’s STEM Workforce Manager, Mr Rick Evans.

RDA Hunter’s Director of Regional Development, Mr Trevor John said, “We’re very pleased that the NSW Government via Defence NSW has recognised the value of STEMship and is providing financial support to see it grow in the Hunter and expand into other locations.” See NSW Govt announcement.

“The STEMship program has resulted in great outcomes for the students, who have gained skills and knowledge to help them move into the world of work. The strength of the STEMship program lies in its innovative partnerships and strong industry connections which have produced such great results over the past three years, and TAFE NSW is very proud to be an ongoing partner of this program.” TAFE NSW Regional General Manager, Susie George.

2018 Industry Partners included Varley Group, AmpControl, EDC, Hummingbird Electronics, UAV Air, Obelisk Systems, Cummins South Pacific, Hedweld Group, AV Living Port Stephens, Bluewater Cruising Yachts, Tomago Aluminium, PBE Rutherford, Advantage Electrical, Coastal Shipwright Services, Inovin Industries, Mat Brown Building.

Caleb Newitt, a year 12 student at Hunter School of Performing Arts, was, in his own words, “not very interested in school”. He was interested in “practical, hands-on activities, and how things work”.

“I was really keen to learn some practical skills in the area that interests me – the automotive industry. STEMship looked really interesting and gave me an opportunity to spend the rest of the year doing something that best suited my interests and benefitted my future career plans.”

Caleb applied for and earnt a position in the 14 strong 2018 STEMship cohort that undertook a multi-disciplinary TAFE component teamed with work placement in Hunter industry during the 17-week program. His interest in the automotive industry was taken into account, and iconic Newcastle company Kloster Ford was invited to join the program for the first time to accommodate him.

The partnership was highly successful, and Caleb was offered a Mechanical Automotive Apprenticeship prior to the completion of the formal component of the program.

Learning and Development Co-ordinator at Kloster Ford, Mr Neville Day said “Caleb is a great fit for our business. He’s enthusiastic, willing to learn and, importantly, has a passion for the automotive industry. The STEMship program is an innovative and successful model that matches young people in the Hunter with job opportunities that they’re right for. It’s helping Klosters build a skilled, homegrown workforce and we’ve been very pleased to be involved this year.”

Mason Mangovski is proficient in multiple software design languages. It’s his passion, but school isn’t his preferred environment. He’s interested in Aerospace Engineering and is ready to transition into a job that will kick-start his career. He saw STEMship as a stepping stone.

In year 12 at West Wallsend High School, Mason excelled at STEM subjects but didn’t enjoy being at school, “I loved some of the computer programming work we were doing at school, but I really wanted to do it full-time. I was ready to build my skills and start on a career path. I decided that STEMship was the key to making that happen for me and my parents supported me.”

“I earnt my place in the small 2018 STEMship cohort and I’ve loved it. I enjoyed the TAFE modules but really loved the on-the-job component. I was placed at Obelisk Systems that develops cutting-edge STEM technology for Australian schools and I’ve been able to work on some interesting projects that will help inspire more school kids to study STEM.”

Obelisk offered Mason a role prior to the completion of the 17-week program.

According to Luke Hackworth, Founder/Director Roboticist/Electrical Engineer at Obelisk, Mason was a perfect fit for the business. “Mason’s programing knowledge is extensive and his passion for the work we are doing is impressive. We are very pleased to have been able to ask him to join our small team. He’ll contribute enormously to our projects and we hope that he can learn some lasting skills.”