Pathways to Success
Pathways to Success aims to raise aspirations and expose pathways to higher education among Aboriginal people, and people of low socio-economic status
The University of Tasmania aims to increase participation in higher education and enable current and future students, families and communities to engage with career possibilities aligned with Tasmania’s industries of the future: food, tourism, advanced manufacturing and health. Tasmanians targeted identify as Aboriginal or from LSES backgrounds. Partnerships with industry, schools, Aboriginal corporations, non-government organisations and local government underpin the project.
- University of Tasmania (UTAS)
- Tasmanian Department of Education (DoE)
- Parks and Wildlife Services (PWS)
- The Smith Family
- Colony 47
- Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation
- Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation
- South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation
- weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation
- Guilford Young College
- St James Catholic College
- Burnie City Council.
Almost half of Tasmania’s population is defined as LSES. Aboriginal people represent almost four per cent of Tasmania’s population but only 1.25 per cent of university enrolments in 2011. This project delivers initiatives to ensure these groups can participate in a future skilled economy.
Pathways to Success specifically targets four regions that include over 83 per cent of Tasmania’s LSES population and 87 per cent of those who identify as Aboriginal. Pathways to Success aims to increase participation in higher education through initiatives which build aspiration, provide smooth transitions and enable current and future students, families and communities to engage with careers aligned with Tasmania’s industries of the future. Desired participant outcomes include informed and lifted aspirations and understanding of the value of higher education, and an improved rate of successful transitions to higher education courses that are preparation for jobs in industries of the future.
Initiatives are grouped into three subprograms:
- What’s After High School – informing and building aspiration beyond high school by introducing students, families, communities and teachers to university and the industries that will provide future jobs.
- Look in at Jobs – familiarising students, families, and communities with future jobs, facilitated by industry liaison officers.
- Skills for Professionals – exposing articulated pathways, enabling supported transitions from secondary college and TasTAFE to university or university preparation programs. Particularly emphasising the value of education to Aboriginal communities, working age adults, and employers.
An example initiative is Aboriginal Cultural Excursions. Aboriginal students participate through trusting relationships formed with service providers including TasTAFE’s Aboriginal Training Program. Excursions to Parks and Wildlife reserve provide an environment for participants to learn about jobs in tourism, guiding, interpretation and environmental conservation along with relevant educational pathways. This initiative is facilitated by a PWS interpretation and education officer, Aboriginal trainee rangers and a local Aboriginal Elder to provide insight, personal experiences, information on education pathways and mentoring to Aboriginal participants. An on-campus experience following the excursion provides insight into university study and support programs available to smooth the transition into higher education.
Enabling teachers to provide guidance and encouragement through information regarding pathways is essential to support project activities. Feast of Knowledge is an initiative which offers educators a first-hand look at developments within the food and tourism industries. Through industry site visits and university and TAFE on-campus experiences, participants are exposed to a diverse array of jobs along with skill requirements, information on skill shortages and qualifications required. The goal in this instance is exposing the future skills required, together with explicit pathways into industry-specific job areas.
Outcomes from Pathways to Success initiatives are qualitative to date. Feedback from participants suggests the Aboriginal Cultural Excursions provided valuable information and inspiring personal journeys from industry representatives. The format was considered engaging, and led to the objectives of the excursions: greater awareness of future jobs in tourism, Aboriginal culture and natural heritage. Participants indicated a clearer understanding of the relevant training and skills required to pursue a career in tourism. The Aboriginal trainee rangers’ sharing of personal stories was especially valuable in encouraging and providing insight into education and career possibilities.
Feedback from teachers and staff indicates deeper understanding of pathway options to tertiary education, and bolstered ability to provide advice to students on career options.
Pathways to Success is actively developing partnerships relevant to each industry and region. Partnerships are founded on shared understandings and goals, and a strong sense of synchronicity between the ambitions of the involved organisations.
Funding has allowed for the provision of dedicated human resources to develop and maintain partnerships. Pathways to Success industry liaison officers are boundary-crossers who understand the worlds of both industry and education. These key staff work between the sectors to negotiate initiatives that work for industry, education providers, and most importantly students and future students. For example, Aboriginal Cultural Excursions is the product of time spent developing collaborative, trusting and enthusiastic partnerships, founded on clearly defined mutual goals, between PWS and Pathways to Success. The same project also relies on trusting collaborative relationships with education providers such as TasTAFE.
Industry liaison officers have successfully developed strong relationships within the four key industries of the future. These relationships have been strengthened by the development of explicit goals, strong role definition and effective communication. Feast of Knowledge is an example of these partnerships at work. Initial discussions with food and tourism industries, TasTAFE and the DoE to develop the pilot initiative have helped to establish strong commitment from stakeholders.
Campus Open Days and Evenings are planned with a focus on the four key Pathways to Success industries. Speakers will be highlighting the jobs of the future and educational pathways to these jobs. Industry ambassadors will also be guest speakers within TasTAFE classrooms.
Health-focused initiatives include career information sessions for current support workers in aged care and disability. They will be delivered by Faculty of Health representatives and multidisciplinary health professionals on campus, providing scenario-based discussion around health careers.
Advanced manufacturing initiatives include Developing Regional Interest in Future Technologies. The aim is to develop positive relationships between schools, students and industry while showcasing authentic learning experiences in local advanced manufacturing industries. Mapping the Connections is another future project to provide a state-wide audit of industry resilience within advanced manufacturing.
This case study is one of a series of 31 presented in our case study publication, Partnerships in Higher Education.