Roadshow of trades workshops: Parra students have what it takes

THE welding helmet may seem too big or tools too heavy for these Parramatta Marist High School students, as shown in the photo, yet it proves they have got what it takes for the jobs of the future.

At a school holiday “welding camp” recently held at Precision Metal Group (PMG) workshop in Wetherill Park, the experience ignited interests on engineering jobs from students and their parents.

The idea of a camp kickstarted last October and will be replicated at high schools across Western Sydney as part of a massive industry-led recruitment program for young people across NSW to try engineering trade as skills shortage is decried by industries.

“Running a school holiday program for everyone in high school from Year 7 onwards to give them an understanding of a career path they can start working towards gives our young people hands-on experience in industries similar to ours,” says PMG chief executive Jason Elias.

“It’s engaging schools, parents, and students but more exposure for students to understand there is a broad industry waiting for them to skill up and employ them soon as they are ready to be on the job.”

Mr Elias says PMG is working alongside the NSW Department of Education and Catholic Schools NSW to conduct schools-based training and attract youths to go into engineering trades apprenticeships.

Wide ranging reform

Last March, the NSW government embarked on a wide-ranging reform of the VET sector to improve the quality and effectiveness of vocational education in secondary schools.

The reforms, recommended by professors David Gonski and Peter Shergold who jointly conducted the VET sector review, included the participation of industry experts in formulating VET curriculums.

The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee, State Member for Parramatta, says the recommendations “elevated the NSW VET system to an enviable standard.”

“Our VET sector has already led the way in training frontline workers who have safeguarded our economy from the effects of a global pandemic and today’s announcement will further bolster the sector to a world-class standard,” says Dr Lee.

Mr Elias says industry expertise in training the future workforce on vocational trades they need is crucial to reducing skills shortage as the Gonski-Shergold VET report has highlighted.

“This camp is a partnership between schools, parents, students and industry to show them that there is an emerging industry technology that we want to expose our students to get them into trades’ jobs,” he says.

“Engineering, fabrication and welding are all vocational training courses and pathways to apprenticeships that are ready to take on roles to be filled.

“We want to reassure parents of students that their children are learning new technologies in engineering and those who have attended our holiday camps have understood the concept and the urgent need for skilling our young ones for jobs in industries.”

Mobile engineering workshops will soon roll out in high schools without available facilities.

Mr Elias says PMG is “retro-fitting” a shipping container with welding and fabricating equipment that will be dropped off at participating high schools for a maximum of two weeks.

The mobile workshop will be moving school to school across Sydney and regional NSW.

“We will be on a roadshow towards the end of this year to expose our students to hands-on experience with the virtual reality of welding and fabricating to give them a taste of what an engineering and manufacturing concept is,” Mr Elias says.

By Elizabeth Frias.

Photo: The first batch of high school students from Parramatta Marist College take hands-on experience at an actual engineering manufacturing at Precision Metal Group workshop in Wetherill Park, with PMG chief executive, Jason Elias.

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