Kawungan State School students learn how to fly a robotic drone at stage one of the Smart Steps: Jobs to Go program last year.
Kawungan State School students learn how to fly a robotic drone at stage one of the Smart Steps: Jobs to Go program last year. Jocelyn Watts

Year 5 students stepping towards smarter futures

AT 10 YEARS of age most youngsters won't be thinking of university study but about 800 Fraser Coast Year 5 students will go to uni as part of USQ's Smart Steps: Jobs to Go program.

USQ project manager Liz Blight said the project was aimed at addressing the low take-up of tertiary education by people in low socio-economic regions such as the Fraser Coast.

"The average tertiary education participation rate for people of Hervey Bay and Maryborough is around 12%, with about half of these enrolling at university," she said.

"The national average is more than double this at 25%."

Ms Blight said university and vocational education was a priority of the Australian Government and a number of projects were underway to encourage more people to think of tertiary studies as an option when they left school.  

"When the program was introduced three years ago, USQ and Wide Bay TAFE looked at ways of interacting with schools to introduce students to job prospects and training needs.

"We wanted an opportunity that did more than just talked at the students, or gave out pamphlets. It had to be something that grabbed their interest and fired their imagination.

"From what was just one school participating in the program, this year almost 20 primary schools across the region have signed up to be part of the Smart Steps project."

On Wednesday, March 19, a hands-on jobs exhibition will be held at TAFE with students participating in a variety of different jobs for when they leave school. 

Later this year, a come-and-try tertiary day will be held  at USQ Fraser Coast where students  will learn about university and vocational education  pathways.

An initiative of the University of Southern Queensland Fraser Coast, in partnership with the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE, the program is is funded by an Australian Government grant through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program.

Further information is available from Smart Steps: Jobs to Go project manager Liz Blight, phone 4194 3128 or email smartsteps@usq.edu.au.



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