The Defence Industry Skilling Program (DISP) is funded by a Schools Pathways Program Grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Defence. Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter implements DISP in the Hunter region under the name ME Program. The ME Program is one of three initiatives RDA Hunter manages as part of its STEM Workforce Initiative.
The purpose of the DISP is to raise students’ awareness of possible career opportunities in Defence and defence industry. It creates pathways to jobs by increasing the number of students undertaking STEM subjects in participating schools and facilitating partnerships between schools and industry.
The DISP has an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The primary objectives are to:
(a) Increase the uptake of STEM subjects at secondary institutions;
(b) Increase student awareness of the employment pathways to Defence and defence industry;
(c) Facilitate student opportunities of hands on experiences in the defence industry;
(d) Establish student mentoring and network opportunities with defence industry.
The long term benefits are:
(a) To increase the pool of young people ready to move from school into further education and apprenticeships, internships, scholarships and part-time work/study combinations;
(b) To educate Australia’s youth about the employment options available in Defence and defence industry; and
(c) To improve defence industry’s competiveness in the hunter region, through an increased pool of future, upskilled employees.
The DISP ensures that students are made aware of possible Defence and defence industry career opportunities and have a greater understanding of the role of STEM subjects in future careers. The Program aims to provide practical experiences for students and teachers through collaborative defence industry interaction. A fundamental element of the DISP is the contextualisation of certain topics within the STEM courses so that learning becomes more real, relevant and enjoyable for both the teacher and student. This is achieved through strong collaboration between educators and defence industry stakeholders.
Through the application of STEM resources to schools, teachers have the opportunity to plan projects, lessons and defence industry immersion experiences that offer Defence and defence industries skilled and enthusiastic recruits and schools a formal method to engage with students in Defence and defence industry relevant activities. These activities include: