Primary schools participating in the program have a high proportion of families receiving financial assistance. Community issues such as generational poverty and unemployment impact on schools and on student aspirations and their desire to learn. Many students held little hope for their participation in the workforce, believing that people had successful careers as a result of “luck”.
Passions and Pathways was designed to overcome these situations and beliefs. During workplace and classroom visits, guest presenters and Young Industry Ambassadors share their stories and their knowledge about how to present ‘yourself in the real world’; OHS considerations and the many different jobs and pathways available in their industry or profession.
Applied learning projects are undertaken in a business over several weeks. Areas have included:
Health Care, Design / Construction, Robotics, Emergency Services / Working together, Hospitality, Trades / DIY, Mapping & Technology, Animal Studies & Hospitality, Aged Care, Childcare, Design / Arts, Hair, Skin & Beauty, Science / Laboratory Skills, Waterway Health / Environmental Science, Fire Safety and Rescue.
During workplace and classroom visits, guest presenters and Young Industry Ambassadors shared their stories and theirknowledge about how to present ‘yourself in the real world’. OH&S considerations and the many different jobs and pathways available in their industry or employment field were presented.
The Project not only enabled students’ learning through relevant, interesting and fun activities but also allowed them to develop and increase meaningful partnerships with their school and local communities. They discovered more about their preferred learning styles, interests and attributes.
The Program enables students to learn through relevant, interesting and fun activities. Importantly, is also allows them to build meaningful partnerships with their school, local communities and future employers. They also discovered more about their preferred learning styles, interests and attributes – and how this can translate into a real job in the real world.
"It was exciting to visit laboratories and to use microscopes to watch little creatures you can't normally see. I'd never been to La Trobe. Now I know what it's like to go to uni."
"I think I'm going to go well in the future after all the things I've learnt."
"I learnt how to work with people I don't like and not to be shy when sharing my ideas."
"I really want to learn more about all the industry visits and they will help me with my skills and ideas for my life. I want to learn about what kinds of jobs they have."
"It was an exciting project to be part of for the first time. To see the enthusiasm, positive attitudes and excitement for learning in the students was amazing."
"This was not about asking students to make lifelong career decisions, it was about giving them a context for their learning and the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to make future career decisions."
"There is mounting evidence about the positive outcomes of starting Career Education early. It's great to know that we are leading the way. The change in student self-confidence and aspirations is awesome."
More than 50 local businesses – ranging from manufacturers, to personal services, to retailers and professional services – give their time to Passions and Pathways. Teachers get to know the participating businesses prior to exposing them to student visits to ensure they understand how the industry operates and can extend the learning once students return to school.
Teachers work closely with each industry project leader to ensure the planned activities are appropriately matched to the capabilities of the student group and that each project involves lots of hands-on work for each student.
Industry visits are a key element of the Passions and Pathways program.
The purpose of industry visits is to prepare students for the visits, teachers and students focussed on:
Over a three week period, students work in groups in the workplace to undertake a meaningful project or solve a problem. Mentors work with student groups to create a plan for each team based project. They identify individual strengths in the team to apply to the development of the project. The applied learning project is undertaken in collaboration with others in groups, demonstrating the art of effective communication between team members, industry mentor and workplace personnel.
"This was about being inspirational. It was about students having positive exposure to local industry and coming to understand that employment and career opportunities relate directly to effort and achievement rather than luck."
"The experience of working on a project, within an industry setting, is a vital component in the Passions & Pathways program ... It was great to see students excited about going to school ... The projects have the potential to empower a student to want to take their place in the world, to be an active participant in life."
“I love to see the excitement of the students. The Project helps them to think about possible career options as well as the opportunities here in Bendigo, locally; you don’t have to leave Bendigo. Sharing information about my employment showcases the role of science in our daily lives.”
Young Industry Ambassadors are specially chosen employees of some of the participating businesses. YIAs are trained to talk about their own career pathways to students. They are an integral part of the program – building a bridge between the students and some of the older workers or the boss!
YIAs visit schools and present to the classes. They help in workplace tours and while undertaking the workplace projects. These YIAs have a chance to practice their leadership and presentation skills, ensuring they also benefit from the program.
"We hatched a plan to address a community need and I’m amazed at the impact it has had."
"When I spoke to the students they were interested and they asked a lot of questions ... I think I was able to give the students a better understanding about why they need to go to school every day."