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Local businesses wanted for IP@K program

IP@K students
Kepnock students in the IP@K program are getting involved with hands-on learning with local businesses.

Local agricultural, construction, tourism and hospitality industry leaders are being encouraged to sign up for the next Integrated Pathways at Kepnock program to help inspire the region's youth and guide their career opportunities.

The inaugural IP@K program was launched in April this year, designed to develop students’ learning through authentic, hands-on skills and experiences in realistic, vocational settings.

In 2022, ten participants from Year 7 to Year 9 were engaged for one day per week in a range of activities with industry mentors, including on farms and in the kitchen.

Businesses such as Macadamias Australia and Pierson Farm jumped on board to guide the students across 12 weeks.

After its success, program coordinators including Kepnock State High School and Bundaberg Regional Council, are looking to roll out IP@K again in 2023.

Kepnock teacher and IP@K creator Dannielle Hibbert said the aim was to give disengaged youth an alternative pathway to education, featuring interactive learning with industry mentors.

She said IP@K 2022 had been a great success.

“In particular, students commented on liking the hands-on nature of learning from industry representatives and experiencing what type of work is available in Bundaberg,” Dannielle said.

“Mentors frequently mentioned how curious and eager the IP@K students were to learn about all aspects of agriculture.

“The authentic nature of the program gave students the opportunity to listen, learn and apply their knowledge as well as the capacity to form productive connections within and beyond the school community.

“Analysis of school engagement data also showed a significant improvement amongst the students and it was an absolute pleasure seeing the kid’s confidence and enthusiasm to interact with Bundaberg professionals each week.”

Peirson Farms support IP@K

Local organisation Peirson Farms was quick to show their support for IP@K 2022, providing students the opportunity to work on the land and learn more about the agriculture industry.

CEO Madeline Marais said it was a fantastic initiative to be part of.

“Meeting the young people at the launch was exciting but meeting those same kids on the farm 10 weeks later confirmed the benefits of this program,” she said.

“It was so encouraging to see how the reserved kids transformed into outgoing, joking, self-confident young people and this just re-affirmed the benefit of this program.

“I can’t wait to see where we will go with this program.”

IP@K graduation
Aron Rogers, Noah McGuire, Danni Neilson, Jordyn Ball, Teila Leech, Kate Jorgensen and Nick Howkins at the IP@K graduation.

Community support vital in student education

Dannielle said IP@K demonstrated that the community truly understood that it took a village to raise a child and that positive engagement fostered confidence and growth for youth.

She said in 2023, it was hoped more local businesses would jump on board to offer support.

“The IP@K pilot targeted agriculture and hospitality,” Danielle said.

“We would really like to expand the program to include tourism, retail, construction and more.

“One of the benefits of connecting with our community was the opportunity for students to see that every industry is made up of many components, allowing IP@K participants to recognise the various job opportunities in any given business.”

IP@K Kepnock
Kepnock State High School principal Nick Howkins with John Vaughn from Macadamias Australia with some donated macadamia trees.

Danielle said the outcome of the 2022 pilot had led to the formation of an IP@K Governance Committee comprising Kepnock SHS (Chair), Bundaberg Regional Council (Facilitator), Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (Industry Liaison), Peirson Trust (Youth Support) and Macadamias Australia (Industry Representative) and Suncoast Gold Macadamias (Industry Representative).

The Focus for 2023 is to expand the program to support three times the number of student participants and widen industry participation to include tourism, retail and construction.

“Ultimately our vision is to help all young people plan for and shape their future and make a contribution to the wider community by providing them with the essential knowledge, understanding and skills for participation in the rapidly changing world of work,” Danielle said.

How to get involved:

The IP@K Committee will be holding several information sessions for prospective industry representatives who would like more information about becoming mentors or would like to know more about how to support this valuable program.

Information sessions are to be held in December 2022 and January 2023 with exact dates and times to be confirmed.

To submit an expression of interest form, click here.

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