BOEING AUSTRALIA – WORKING WITH RDA HUNTER TO BUILD ITS WORKFORCE
by Kate O’Mara
According to the Foundation for Young Australians’ (FYA) report series, The New Work Order, employers are paying a premium for people with skills in digital literacy, critical thinking, creativity and teamwork. These so-called enterprise skills are quickly becoming the ‘new basics’ and will soon be essential for securing employment.
Jan Owen AM, CEO of FYA, reinforced this idea at the recent RDA Hunter STEM Workforce Conference, talking about a need in the workplace for cultural intelligence. She said we need to equip, inform and inspire young people to navigate the future of work by thinking about how their skills are portable for other jobs.
Providing a workforce with both technical and enterprise skills has long been on the agenda of RDA Hunter’s STEM Workforce initiatives.
“Since 2009, we have been working in close partnership with Hunter industry to make sure students have skills in specific areas of competence. Enterprise skills, or what we used to call ‘soft skills’, are absolutely essential to succeed in the current workplace,” said Trevor John RDA Hunter’s Director of Regional Development.
RDA Hunter’s STEM Workforce Manager, Rick Evans, observes that, “On-the-job training is increasingly prevalent in the Hunter because of the highly technical, niche projects currently underway here. Companies are looking for young people with the right combination of skills – people that have STEM knowledge, but that are also able to adapt, work in teams and think critically about solutions to problems we haven’t had to solve before. Our programs are focused on building these skills in addition to technical knowledge.”
Launched in 2017 as part of RDA Hunter’s most mature STEM program, ME, STEM-Ex was established to funnel students who show the right combination of skills into Hunter industries that need them. It exposes students to the role enterprise skills play in successful project delivery by embedding them in real project teams.
“STEM-Ex presents a unique opportunity to engage students at a pivotal point in their lives and inspires them to pursue STEM based careers. Industry partners are absolutely critical to the success of this program. The quality companies we partner with has increased the activity’s popularity with students and is the reason we’ve had to introduce a competitive entry system.” Rick Evans said.
Global aerospace giant Boeing has a strong but unassuming presence in the Hunter sustaining and upgrading the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft, and training the Airforce crew to fly the E-7A and Mission System crew to operate the E-7A. Boeing is a vital ME Program partner and a supportive participant in STEM-Ex.
According to Mr Matt Sprakel, Boeing Defence Australia’s (BDA) Classic Hornet Chief Engineer and Boeing’s STEM-Ex lead in Hunter, the aerospace industry will be highly active for at least 50 years in the Hunter Region and companies like Boeing will continue to have a requirement for skilled people.
“We maintain a large workforce in the Hunter that has a diverse range of skills and qualifications. For the foreseeable future