Push to inspire students into booming industries
HIGH school students are being exposed to the opportunities mining and steel production bring, through a GFG Foundation program designed to excite young people's passions about working in industry.
GFG Alliance executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta on Friday launched the foundation's program in Whyalla.
The six-month program involves 16 students, which the foundation has termed "test pilots", doing a six-month work experience stint through the company's local steelworks and mining operations.
Mr Gupta said the program would be the start of an "exciting, rewarding and ongoing relationship" between his family foundation and the youth of Whyalla.
"Coming from a family of industrialists, while growing up I had the opportunity to spend time in steel works and engineering plants," he said.
"That left a lasting impression on me and really inspired me to pursue an active career in industry, so I see the GFG Foundation providing a similar experience for these young people and am very excited about its promise in Australia."
Mr Gupta said he wanted to reinvigorate Australia's manufacturing industry, so it was vital the next generation had the motivation and skills to enable the nation to be competitive on the world stage.
The first cohort of students are studying Years 9 and 10.
GFG Foundation chief operating officer Jonny Samengo said the plan was to eventually expand the program across Australia, through the company's other sites.
"It's a combination of introducing them to industry, site visits to the steel mill and mine, the CSIRO will be teaching them STEM and there's also a strong life skills component to it," Mr Samengo said.
"It's about making them their best selves and ready for the world, which often school doesn't do."
He said 70 students were interviewed for spots on the program, and organisers were so impressed with the applicants they took on extra young people as "copilots", who complete a less intensive version of the scheme.
Jordan, 15, said he was interested in becoming a boilermaker after school like his dad, who works at SIMEC, which is majority-owned by GFG Alliance.
"I would like to see what the company is about and if it's a future career option," he said.
Nathanuel, 16, also hoped the program might open up future career pathways.
"In primary school I didn't know what I wanted to do," he said.
"Now I want to help build Whyalla."
The foundation was established as a UK charity in 2016, leveraging off of the Industrial Cadets program inspired by The Prince of Wales.