When Jennifer Agesa, a teacher from Monterey Secondary College in Frankston North, realised that the year 10 Work Experience program would be cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, she was "extremely disappointed" for the students. "2020 has been such a challenging year for all, yet we know how important opportunities like Work Experience are for preparing students for life after school," she said.
Fortunately, national children’s educational charity, The Smith Family, and one of their long-term strategic partners, BASF Australia, were able to step in and offer a digital alternative. Normally run face-to-face, the 'Work Inspiration' program is an employer-led initiative that provides young people with the opportunity to experience the world of work in a meaningful and inspiring way.
"In this time of great uncertainty, it is more important than ever to tap into young people's interests and passions as they begin looking towards their futures," said Georgina Paterson, the Beyond School Transitions Project Officer from The Smith Family. "Our Work Inspiration program is designed to connect young Australians with workplaces to give the students a glimpse into what working life can look like. The program builds careers knowledge, broadens students’ perspectives and develops aspirations. We were thrilled that BASF were happy to partner with us to deliver the program in a digital format."
Throughout the week, Monterey students undertook a personality quiz to learn more about their individual skillset, learnt practical skills for applying for jobs, and, after learning about the ‘megatrends’ shaping the world, had the opportunity to work with BASF employees to design more sustainable, future-focused approaches to shopping, transport, workplaces and universities.
“BASF team members from around the globe generously gave their time to engage in conversations with Year 10 students, sharing their insights, career journeys and experiences in the world of work," Georgina continued. "Thanks to BASF these students didn’t miss out on this valuable experience in what has already been a year full of so many challenges."
Work Inspiration was also an opportunity for BASF to showcase their career opportunities, engage with the future workforce and support their local community. "As the world’s leading chemical company, at BASF we are passionate about inspiring the next generation to see the endless opportunities a career in STEM can offer," said David Hawkins, Managing Director and Chairman of BASF Australia and New Zealand.
"Through the Work Inspiration program we were able to share with the students just some of the careers working at a company like BASF can offer. From corporate jobs at our Melbourne office, to working at our picturesque ‘pink lake’ Nutrition & Health facility in remote Western Australia. We even invited some of our expat colleagues in Hong Kong to take the students on a virtual tour of our regional office.”
Feedback from Work Inspiration was extremely positive with Jennifer sharing students not only developed tangible skills but also optimism about life after school. “The BASF team were great at connecting with our students, there was a feeling of increased confidence and inspiration towards developing their career paths as students learnt to imagine positive futures for themselves,” she said.