Creating the future workforce

By Jackie Randles

future_workforceRDA Hunter, a member of the dynamic Hunter Science Hub, is planning a one-day conference entitled Leveraging a STEM Workforce for the Future. The conference will be held on 13 April at Newcastle City Hall to examine the benefits of education and industry partnerships,

“Our first major STEM conference for the region will highlight the benefits of a STEM workforce to drive innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development,” said RDA Hunter’s ME Program Director, Dr Scott Sleap.

“Its aim is to build stronger relationships between STEM employers and education institutions in order to improve student workplace skills and prepare them for STEM careers.”

Dr Sleap said that RDA Hunter’s ME Program links industry with schools to make curriculum more interesting and workplace-relevant.

“It also provides industry with qualified, motivated and career aware candidates,” he added.

Importantly, the conference will provide an opportunity for Hunter schools to interact with the Region’s industry. In designing the conference program, Dr Sleap drew on his experience as the creator of the revolutionary iSTEM syllabus at Maitland Grossmann High School.

“An initiative of the ME Program, Maitland Grossmann High School and industry, iSTEM is a Year 9 and 10 school developed, BOSTES endorsed course (SDBEC) that aims to contextualise curriculum content using problem based learning activities,” Dr Sleap said.

iSTEM is unique in that it was developed in consultation with local manufacturing industries and integrates the all components of STEM. The curriculum was first endorsed by BOSTES in 2014 and was delivered by seven Hunter schools in 2014. The number of schools delivering iSTEM in NSW is expected to increase to over 70 in 2017.

The Hunter region is well developed in its delivery of STEM based curriculum development. Just last week, Maitland Grossmann High School was selected as one of only eight ‘STEM Action Schools’ in New South Wales. These STEM Action Schools will share and support effective STEM pedagogy, illustrate innovative practice for student engagement in STEM, and demonstrate successful leadership, professional learning and industry partnerships.

Dr Sleap said the best way to ensure further STEM action in schools is through fostering productive relationships between schools and industry.

“This conference will enable schools and industry to interact to develop a plan for the future. It’s a unique opportunity for the Hunter’s teachers and industry leaders to participate in workshops as well as share ideas and insights that will assist in lesson planning and forecasting for the jobs of the future,” Dr Sleap said.

With a stellar line up of speakers including Professor Mary O’Kane, the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Sally-Ann Williams, Google’s Community and Outreach Manager, and Steven Drury, Director Aerospace BAE Systems, the conference is set to strengthen the impact of the region’s many and varied STEM education initiatives that all come together as the Hunter Science Hub.

The conference is open to all and especially welcomes

  • Schools and education leaders
  • STEM education experts
  • Business and industry employers
  • Universities, TAFE and RTOs
  • Employment services groups

For more information about the Leveraging a STEM Workforce for the Future conference got to

Jackie Randles is the Manager Inspiring Australia (NSW) and a supporter of the Hunter Science Hub.