SIMON BIRMINGHAM: …the Wyong State High School where we are bringing a Pathways in Technology program here which will support collaboration between local businesses Mars, Sanitarium and the local business chamber working with the school to provide technology-rich pathways and support for students and hopefully through that to expand their career horizons and give them real opportunities to succeed and secure real local jobs in the future.
JOURNALIST: Why was Wyong selected as an appropriate location for something like this?
BIRMINGHAM: Well in part Wyong’s being selected because the local member Karen McNamara has made a really strong case for Wyong. She urged us to expand the pilot beyond the initial two sites so we’re now going to support 14 sites around Australia and I came here just a few weeks ago to have a talk to the local businesses and to visit the school and out of those discussions it was very clear that the collaboration and the work and the groundwork that had been done meant that this is a pilot that will succeed and that we can have great confidence that the school will benefit, students will benefit and local businesses and the community will benefit.
JOURNALIST: So unemployment’s obviously quite high here on the Central Coast. How important are developments like this in terms of improving that?
BIRMINGHAM: Jobs growth is central to our plans at this election and I know what parents want is a great education for their children and to know that there are jobs there at the end. And to have those jobs at the end we need to have successful local businesses and we need to make sure students are skilled to work in those local jobs and this pilot programme really is about helping build that, to give local businesses employees who want to stay and work in the local area but who have been skilled from an early stage in the types of skills those businesses need to succeed so this really can help to ensure that the Central Coast becomes a more attractive place for businesses to grow and for them to have the knowledge that local schools will work with those businesses to help skill the kids of today for the jobs of the future.
JOURNALIST: So Karen obviously this is something that you’ve fought for for quite a long time, how does it feel to be at this stage?
KAREN MCNAMARA: It’s fantastic because it was through the engagement with Wyong High that I identified that this would be an ideal spot to continue the pilot program [indistinct] and through a lot of lobbying and knocking on doors in Canberra we’ve seen it come to fruition today with the Minister being here to make this announcement.
JOURNALIST: How great is the uptake from local businesses in jumping on board with this?
MCNAMARA: There was no problems whatsoever, as soon as we notified local businesses they were on straight away and we had a series of roundtable discussions that involved the stakeholders and everyone came together and thanks to them, this has happened today.
JOURNALIST: Excellent. Labor have criticised you guys for cuts to TAFE and things like that, is this I guess a response to what was brought out by Emma last week?
MCNAMARA: We have never cut TAFE whatsoever, that is a responsibility of the state government to fund and manage TAFEs. So once again Labor need to get their facts right before they go out criticising. The Coalition Government has made a strong commitment to education and we’ve seen funding increase over the years with more funding to be made available over the next four years as well.
JOURNALIST: Great, so tell me how this will be rolled out providing you guys get re-elected?
MCNAMARA: Okay well given the Coalition is making an election announcement today, we will make sure that once we are re-elected the funds will come through and the programs will be implemented in the same way they were implemented in Victoria.
JOURNALIST: Okay, timeframe though?
MCNAMARA: Well, sooner than later. It would be something I’d be working on immediately to make happen. In 2013 I met all my election commitments, I have a proven track record in delivery, and that’s exactly what will happen if re-elected.
BIRMINGHAM: We managed to get the first two pilots announced last year and up and running for commencement this year, so the intention would absolutely be for it [indistinct].