A Tamar Valley school-based apprenticeship day should be a "call to arms" to tackle the skills gap flagged as a potential brake on economic and employment opportunities in the region and state.
About 24 high school students from Exeter and Port Dalrymple took part in the Industry Taster Day - organised by KEEN Partners - which toured a number of engineering businesses in George Town and Bell Bay last Monday.
"It bodes well," said KEEN chief executive Ray Mostogl. "It certainly exceeded our expectations."
The business was established in March by the prominent business operator and other leaders from the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone, and aims to help connect those in the region to jobs.
IN OTHER NEWS
With youth unemployment in Tasmania at 15.1 per cent - well above the national rate of 11.2 per cent - Mr Mostogl noted at its launch the industry had noticed a shortage of skilled workers available.
The former general manager of Bell Bay Aluminium said KEEN had recently been approached to provide six school-based engineering trade apprentices across three George Town businesses to start in 2020.
They then put the call out to the Port Dalrymple School due to its proximity, before Exeter High School heard about the opportunity too.
"We were hoping for ... eight or 10 [students], and we ended up having 24," Mr Mostogl said. "And that was ranging from grade 9 through to grade 11."
"To have this many students interested - or at least curious ... was really promising."
"Everybody's complaining that we're not getting enough people and we've got high youth unemployment and that's why we ... probably had a low expectation, but it exceeded our expectations significantly."
Mr Mostogl said the young people would now also be able to undertake their TasTAFE theory courses during school holidays as a way to speed up their accreditation.
The Industry Taster Day also featured representatives from the Education Department who walked students through how the school-based program works.
Tasmanian students are able to begin the part-time apprenticeships in grade 10, with schools allowing them to undertake their industry work for between seven and 15 hours each week.
While you're with us, you can now sign up to receive breaking news updates and daily headlines direct to your inbox. Sign up here.