As local industry addresses the regional impact of COVID-19, the requirement for a skilled and ready workforce to underpin the region's growth and sustainability has never been more critical.
RDA Hunter works with all levels of government, industry, the private sector and local communities to help create genuine career opportunities in regional centres.
The region's growing defence industry is a billion dollar sector offering opportunities to build an industry-skilled, homegrown Hunter workforce.
In 2018 RDA Hunter partnered with Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) to build a strategic and operational partnership through two initiatives - STEMstart and Altitude Accord.
STEMstart, delivered in partnership with TAFE NSW Newcastle, connects LMA with local secondary schools, as well as vocational training and tertiary institutions and aims to inspire and mentor Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) learning and shape curricula to address the region's projected STEM skills required to operate, sustain and maintain the 5th Generation era of defence capability.
Altitude Accord, delivered in partnership with Univeristy of Newcastle (UON), supports curricula development across relevant STEM-related UON courses.
In March LMA announced an extension of its STEMstart and Altitude Accord partnership for 2020. The funding announcement coincided with the award of LMA's apprenticeship and traineeship, to Jessica Gear, who started as an F-35 ALIS Integration, Maintenance and Administration Services (IMAS) trainee business administrator in January 2020 and Zackery Aislabie, who started as a TADRs apprentice in January 2019.
"Lockheed Martin Australia is proud to be working with the RDA Hunter to raise the technology base in the Hunter region, which, as one of Australia's largest regional economies and home to our country's first squadron of F-35s, is critical to Australia's economic interests and sovereign defence capability," LMA Chief Executive Joe North said.
"We are pleased to be investing in a highly-skilled regional workforce through our partnerships with industry and STEM learning initiatives, and I hope more students in the Hunter region will be encouraged to take-up STEM-related subjects and go on to pursue careers in the defence industry."
RDA Hunter Chairman Mr John Turner said he was delighted with LMA's commitment to the extension of the partnership, highlighting that it would have a direct impact on students' understanding of career opportunities in the region's defence industry.
"As one of Australia's largest regional economies, the Hunter has a vital role in ensuring a job-ready, highly skilled, high value workforce to support Australia's advanced technologies of the future," he said.
"With the introduction of defence capabilities in support of the F35, we'll see an increase in related jobs in the next five years.
"Through our partnerships with the Hunter's defence industry, we are pleased to help prepare the region's students for these exciting opportunities."
RDA Hunter is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, May 20 from 5.30pm to 6.30pm to provide information about the 2020 STEMstart program.
It will be an information-sharing event featuring talks by RDA Hunter, LMA and TAFE NSW. Anyone interested is encouraged to register their attendance.
Registration is essential. For more information go to https://stemstart2020webinar.eventbrite.com.au.