• BLPCP Team

Passions and Pathways: schools and industry in partnership

By Goldfields Local Learning and Employment Network executive Officer, Anne Brosnan

1. What was the problem?

A recent project conducted by La Trobe University with grade six and year seven students from Bendigo focussing on student aspirations found many students' career plans were limited, and in many cases students lack of ambitions altogether.

Participating students held little hope for their future workplace participation, believing people with successful careers to ‘lucky’. Students felt there was no way they were also 'lucky' and so they were excluded from a fulfilling career.

Many of the students were impacted by intergenerational disadvantage.

2. What is Passions and Pathways?

Passions and Pathways began with a simple comment in 2010 at a breakfast meeting hosted by Goldfields Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) for educators, business and industry leaders.

The meeting focussed on improving partnerships between schools and the employment world to link authentic workplace experiences for students from low socioeconomic areas and connect the dots between school and real-life; opening students’ eyes to the endless job and career possibilities that exist.

A primary school principal spoke about how community issues, such as generational poverty and unemployment can impact on schools and on students’ aspirations and the desire to learn.

A local CEO from a Bendigo manufacturing business was ‘gobsmacked’ that local students were impacted on by generational poverty. He likened their environment to ‘third-world’ conditions.

I couldn’t believe that here in Bendigo we had students who held such little hope for the future and I knew that it was our responsibility as a community to do something about that’.

This started a unique momentum with the possibilities for an initiative inspiring some primary school communities to embrace an innovative partnership with business.

The outcome was Passions & Pathways: Primary Schools & Workplaces in Partnership.

3. The partnership

Now in its sixth year, Passions and Pathways is a partnership between the Goldfields LLEN (lead partner), four Bendigo primary schools, City of Greater Bendigo's Economic Development Unit, the Bendigo Manufacturing Group, Regional Development Victoria and more than 40 local businesses.

A fifth school from the Mount Alexander Shire will join in 2018.

Passions and Pathways for 2017 commenced in term three. Components included:

  • Work safety preparation for workplace visits

  • Workplace tours (small groups)

  • Visits to classrooms by trained Young Industry Ambassadors; sharing their pathways from school into further education, training and employment

  • Workplace projects in work places (small groups)

  • Taster workshops at the local TAFE and University

  • A student expo to showcase learnings to parents and their host businesses

A representative steering committee meets bi-monthly. Through the steering committee, consultation has occurred with external organisations including Careers Education Association Victoria (CEAV).

4. Passions and Pathways Outcomes

Meets school based curriculum learning outcomes.

The Passions and Pathways website has been developed with a Curriculum Framework linked to the Victorian Curriculum: www.passionsandpathways.org.au

Develops students’ understanding of the world of work

‘I really want to learn more about all the industry visits; they will help me with my skills and ideas for my life. I want to learn about what kinds of jobs they have.’

Connects the dots between school and real-life

‘It was exciting to visit laboratories and to use microscopes to watch little creatures you can’t normally see; now I know what it is like to go to uni’
‘I learnt how to work with people I don’t like and not to be shy when sharing my ideas.’

At the Passions and Pathways launch last year, several students in secondary school spoke about the impact of their experiences and how it made them realise the importance of staying at school.

One boy in year eight, voiced that before his involvement he did not want to come to school but Passions and Pathways encouraged him to do more schoolwork, as before he did nothing in class. He stated how he now understands that mathematics and english are important subjects.

A formal evaluation will be undertaken later in 2017, including a evaluation of the sustainability of the program.

5. What was the value-add of the LLEN?

Goldfields LLEN has been the program's lead partner and independent ‘broker’, building and strengthening the partnerships between all sectors. The Executive Officer has a significant experiential background in education that is beneficial.

For more information about Passions and Pathways email Goldfields LLEN Executive Officer, Anne Brosnan.

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