The trial of a NSW development program to meet the region’s future workforce in agriculture has started at a Riverina high school.
The STEM Industry School Partnerships program by the Department of NSW Education and Regional Development Australia Riverina has been extended into the Riverina following successful trials in three other regions last year.
SISP is described as building “a kindergarten to year 12 STEM education continuum, with an emphasis on the primary-to-secondary transition and promotes pathways to STEM jobs for students across regional NSW”.
The program, which is based on reports and research by the COAG Education Council, has started at Murrumbidgee Regional High School with a focus on agritech.
Matt Scott, NSW Education’s STEM curriculum advisor for years 7–12, said that the program was “multidimensional with a lot of moving parts”.
“Part of the program involves inviting industries to schools and vice versa to better understand what’s needed in careers,” Mr Scott said.
“It’s to provide professional learning and resources to school to have expertise to teach contextual STEM programs related to those industry.
“We want to ensure students going to these public schools are best prepared for future workforce that’s significantly changing.”
We want to ensure students going to these public schools are best prepared for future workforce that’s significantly changing.Matt Scott, NSW Education’s STEM curriculum advisor
Mr Scott said that while it was still early, the program will not just focus on Griffith but the whole Riverina.
Wagga STEM professional and mother Saba Nabi said the initiative was a positive for the region.
“It’s a really good program, it’s engaging and that’s the best part,” she said.
Should the program roll out across the state following trials, Dr Nabi said “it’d bring everyone under a single roof, which would be really fulfilling”.
While the program targets secondary education only at this stage, Dr Nabi said she hoped to see it extend to primary education.
“If children know the importance of STEM subjects early on, it’d be easy for them and their parents have informed decisions before take certain subjects in high school,” she said.
“It’d be good to mimic those activities on a smaller scale in primary school.
“Wagga is fortunate because we have CSU, TAFE, Libraries and various departments so I’d also like to see more collaboration among all in this program.”
RDA Riverina will provide comments and more information in due course.
Other sectors in the SISP program offered in other regions include renewable energy, transport and infrastructure and natural resources.
The trial of the program is funded by the NSW Government until the end of 2019.
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