Kwinana Industries Council director Chris Oughton

KWINANA’S industrial strip needs to plan ahead for workforce renewal as more and more  baby boomers head into retirement, Palm Breach Rotarians heard on Wednesday.

Kwinana Industries Council director Chris Oughton, pictured above, and Debbie Hoey, the council’s  education development coordinator, attended the regular club meeting to discuss their work getting high school students ready for work and aware of the opportunities in the local industrial area.

Seventeen local high schools (all except Baldivis) were involved in the program.  Baldivis was expected to come on board soon.

The Kwinana Industries Association is made up of 11 full members, who include all the major industries, and 25 associate members, covering the support and service sectors.

The full members provide $800,000 funding, most of the council’s running costs.  The associate members provide 10 per cent.

And, 90 per cent of the council’s expenditure is local, Mr Oughton said.

He noted that 64 per cent of workers on the Kwinana industrial strip live within 15km of their work.

Sixty per cent were in the baby boomer group and all would be retired within the next 10 to 15 years.

“We need new strategies to bring up  the next workforce for the Kwinana industrial area,” he said.

The council had a number of strategies and prominent was the  education development program. This had two streams:

1) iProjects for year 10 youngsters; and

2) Career Pathways programs , school-based traineeships, for years 11 and 12.

KIC was the employer in these projects, covering insurances etc, and the workplace employers were the students hosts.

The program is so well regarded it was a finalist in  this year’s WA Schools Pathways to VET.

Sponsorship packages were available for $5000 and would enable Rotary to be directly involved in supporting local young people, Mr Oughton said.

He suggested iDiversity for male and female Year 10 students from the Education Support Centres  might be a good one. 

It aims to show industrial career opportunities to students with special learning needs. They get an insight into what industry does and what it expects of employees.

The youngsters go on industry excursions and meet people employed in industry. They also take part in workshop sessions, including resume writing and mock interviews. The project includes one-day work experience with a host employer.

He cited one program graduate, a young man with autism, who is now a valued designer.

“We are only just starting to venture into this area,” Mr Oughton remarked.

Student sponsorships costing $3500 might also appeal to Rotary, he added.

Past president Michael McCafferty noted reports that less than 30 per cent of youngsters who embarked on apprenticeships completed them.