RDA Hunter, as the region’s economic development agency, has identified three priority areas of focus that underpin regional growth and maintain international competitiveness – innovation, investment and infrastructure. Additionally, a STEM skilled workforce enables innovation-driven growth and industry development.

Since 2010, RDA Hunter has been undertaking activities to STEM skill the region’s future workforce. Our STEM Workforce Initiative is a suite of life-stage specific, education programs that provide a pipeline of industry-focused activities for primary to senior school students and those transitioning to higher education www.rdahunterstem.org.au

The STEM Workforce Initiative includes:

Our anchor project, ME Program is funded by Australia’s Department of Defence and engages students in years 7 – 12 in STEM focused problem-based learning activities led by the region’s defence industry. It incorporates our flagship activities iSTEM, STEM-Ex and Defence & Aerospace Careers Days.

STEMship, funded by the State Government, is a vocational education & training (VET) program designed as an alternative pathway to direct university entry following secondary school. It aims to transition participants out of school and into employment via technical apprenticeships, traineeships, and further study.

miniME is a primary school program funded by Newcastle City Council. The aim of the program is to pique students’ interest in STEM, its applications and the long-term benefits of studying it, early in their schooling – with the intention of encouraging them to continue STEM study throughout their education.

SISP is a primary to high school transition program that matches regional schools with industry partners and technology programs. The project aims to contribute to the Education Council’s national goal to upskill students and teachers in STEM in preparation for the jobs that industry will need in the future.

STEMstart is a partnership between Lockheed Martin Australia, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter and TAFE NSW North to deliver an 18-month Vocational Education Training (VET) program to provide students with the high value, job ready skills needed to create and sustain advanced technologies for the Defence industry.

Women in STEM involves young women from secondary schools across the Hunter region in a day-long summit/workshops that aim to inspire them to study STEM subjects at school and pursue STEM based careers

In close mutual partnership with local industry, that includes defence prime contractors, multi-nationals and SMEs, the student continuum is immersed in industry focused and designed curriculum as well as professional placements and work experience.

These activities encourage student interest in STEM careers and ensure their preparedness for the jobs that projects such as Defence’s Joint Strike Fighter will create in the region in the future.

The aim of the RDA Hunter’s STEM Workforce Initiative is to develop a technically adept, skilled and job-ready Hunter workforce.

For information about our programs visit www.rdahunterstem.org.au