A new high school program to help equip future tradespeople and technicians to work with emerging technologies is kicking off in Townsville this month.
Thirty-six Year 11 students are joining Queensland’s first P-TECH (Pathways in Technology) pilot program, being offered through Tec-NQ.
It is one of four new P-TECH partnerships commencing across Australia in 2019, in addition to 10 already operating, according to the Skilling Australia Foundation.
Tec-NQ strategic projects manager Jennifer Trybula said the program was very focussed on offering students professional pathways after graduation in fields centred on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“The intent of the STEM-based qualification is to equip technicians with a transferable skill set that enables the identification, integration, operation, maintenance and repair of new and emerging technology in an industrial setting,” she said.
“Our industry partners in the development of this pathway represent precision agriculture (Growcom), food and beverage processing (Wilmar Sugar), mining equipment, technology and services (Modern Project Solutions), biomedical engineering (Biomedical Technology Services) and renewable energy (Energy Queensland).”
Modern Project Solutions managing director Adrian Part said his business had a strong focus on training and became involved with P-TECH after a discussion with Ms Trybula at an Industry 4.0 event late last year.
Its role would include reviewing the curriculum, hosting apprentices and providing training and demonstrations at the Tec-NQ Townsville campus, he said.
Mr Part said one of the greatest challenges for the mining services sector was identifying the new skills that workers would require as the sector progressed rapidly in areas including automation and data exchange.
They may find themselves diagnosing faults in machinery remotely, using sensors and online tools, for example.
“As technicians or developing tradespeople they are going to need to have a concept of machinery not just as isolated units,” he said.
“We have to create more problem-solving skills and allow them to adapt to this new world emerging where everything is connected.”
Ms Trybula said Tec-NQ had worked to build a qualification structure that was about 50 per cent industrial IT, 25 per cent engineering fundamentals and 25 per cent electrical principles.
“James Cook University is working with us to create a vocational pathway to university through the program with the aim of transitioning students completing the school-based programs to a diploma/associate degree, tertiary/paraprofessional pathway,” she said.
“The career pathway also includes apprenticeships in engineering or electrical.”