SIMON BIRMINGHAM: St Pat’s school and technical college, thank you very much for having us here today, it is a real delight to see this facility and this enterprise. Senator David Fawcett has, I think, been agitating me to come up and visit for about eighteen months now. So, I am pleased that we’ve finally reached that point where I’ve been able to come, to come on a day where we can share in some very good news as well. To my other Parliamentary colleagues, particularly Senator Scott Ryan, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills this is the first visit of this sort and announcement of this sort that we’ve done together because it is, of course, really bringing that school education together with the vocational education in such a strong way and my aspirant Parliamentary colleagues Kathleen and Graham, thank you for coming along and for your enthusiasm in helping to make sure that this partnership that we announce today could become a reality. To the industry leaders, partners, Nick Wyman who I’ll say a bit more about in a second on this P-TECH journey, thank you all for coming along.

Today I’ve got the pleasure of announcing that here at St Pat’s we will have another of our pilot sites in the P-TECH programme. P-TECH is a pathways to technology programme born in the United States that we have been piloting as a government in Australia and are seeking to expand that pilot and those opportunities. It started out in Brooklyn in the US in a partnership with IBM and IBM working with a local school to establish a stronger relationship between that school and IBM that had some structure around it, that wasn’t just about the school and the company working together, it was about a structured learning pathway complementing existing curriculum that students could undertake from year 9 onwards where they knew what they were doing and regular engagement with the company. Engagement across the roles that the company had to offer, not just software engineering or life in a company like IBM, but a range of different of technical opportunities that were available that could link and flow on from their schooling in to a recognised diploma level qualification.

We’ve brought the model, given that it was rolled out across many schools in the US, to Australia. Firstly, in Geelong where the Newcomb Secondary School is partnering with a consortia of local businesses [indistinct] that are all STEM rich. Similarly, the pilot we established last year in Ballarat, working with IBM here in Australia replicating what they are doing elsewhere and then this week the Prime Minister and I announced that we would expand that two site pilot to a fourteen site pilot with twelve additional sites being supported around Australia and we did that in Penrith where we announced a partnership with PwC and I followed that up a couple of days later on the north coast of NSW where I announced a partnership between Wyong High School and the Mars corporation. What you can see out of all of that is a real diversity of the businesses that are involved, health industries, IT, food processing and manufacturing, accounting and today, here at St Pat’s, we recognise a new partnership with the Defence Teaming Centre bringing together their members and consortia of defence industry businesses and that is because the STEM skills that business needs are needed across a range of different industries and businesses that most sectors now have a lot of technology rich, STEM rich roles that traverse a whole range of different areas of their operation. When I was up there in Wyong talking about food manufacturing and processing, it was everything from innovation and the desire of food products, the processing and manufacturing stages in terms of the equipment and was being utilised, the packaging design equipment, the distribution networks, the marketing arrangements all of those areas are, of course, technologically rich and if we think about the defence sector, similarly we see a mixture of highly technical roles, for vocational roles, but all of those defence industries requiring good, strong and technical skills, engineering skills, maths skills, science skills in different ways as part of bringing together that puzzle.

South Australia, of course, is the nation’s leader in terms of defence industry and we’re proud, as a government, that part of our plan is to support the continued development of the defence industries here in South Australia providing leading opportunities across shipbuilding, submarines, but knowing that that supports the defence companies to operate in a range of other sectors and areas that provide real opportunities for them, not just to feed in to those enterprises, but other defence procurement here in Australia and indeed defence procurement right around the rest of the world. Critical to the success of that is, of course, having a skilled workforce and so the partnership that we’re supporting here through the Pathways in Technology programme, that St Pat’s will be able to afford with the Defence Teaming Centre and its members will provide real opportunities for students to see the different career pathways they can take, to learn about them early on, to be mentored, to work alongside people in those businesses coming in to St Pat’s, their skilled employees and of course students going out on site in to those businesses. It will compliment what is already happening here in terms of the apprenticeship pathways that are available by providing a richer and more diverse source of potential pathways in to those diploma programmes and I do want to acknowledge, as has already happened, Nick Wyman from the Skilling Australia Foundation who has really helped us to adapt the US model and provide a practical, on the ground assistance in getting the pilots underway today, to help make sure that relationship works and to help make sure everybody understands that it is not just a tick-a-box relationship, that there are expectations and obligations on both sides in terms of the commitment that schools give to it and that businesses give to it because our ambition is that this can be replicated many times over around the country, not just in technical schools, but replicated in places where business can step up to the plate, forge a successful partnership with schools, utilise the model that is in place and not necessarily need extensive government funding to do so because this is a model that should be able to be replicated at low cost, based on the good will, energy and commitment of the businesses and the schools in the future.

Thank you very much for being one of our pilot sites. Congratulations on your selection. Good luck with this rollout over the next few years. I have every confidence based on the success that’s happened here that it will be an incredible success. I know how well connected the defence teaming centre is with our major and smaller defence industry employers in South Australia and that you will be able to equally open doors that will help make sure your members and businesses have skilled employees in the future, but importantly today’s students have good job opportunities in the future as well. Thanks so very much.