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PICSE: A partnership strategy to develop Australia’s greatest future resource. Schools-University-Industry Partnerships. Gordon Stone (PICSE, Program Mgr). This presentation. T hree key issues What is PICSE and how does it work – including Evidence of its success and its Impact stats

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PICSE: A partnership strategy to develop Australia’s greatest future resource



Gordon Stone (PICSE, Program Mgr)


This presentation

  • Three key issues
  • What is PICSE and how does it work – including Evidence of its success and its Impact stats
  • Strategic positioning – a Think Tank on … How To Get Young Scientists to support Australia’s Food Security
  • Why is this Case Study relevant to regional universities?

A Mammoth Problem!

By 2012  35% shortfall

Irrelevant School Curriculum

Teacher’s Negative Perceptions

Aging Scientific Workforce

Competition from other Sectors

Skills Shortage

Rural / Regional Drain

Decline in Yr 8 -12 Science

Fewer Quality Undergraduates

Increasing Skill Gap in Industry.

what the australian council of deans of agriculture report job market
What The Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture report:Job market

> 4000 graduate jobs / year

~ 700 graduates per year

(and declining)

 Capacity decline


Capacity Building Supply Chain

School to Employment





Yrs 1-4

Yrs 5-6

Yrs 7-8

Yrs 9-10

Yrs 11-12

















Senior High




High School

Primary School

  • PICSE Activities
  • Classroom
  • Camps
  • Investigations
  • Placements
  • Teacher PDs
  • Scholarships
  • Resources
  • Mentoring
  • Careers
  • Evaluation

Upper Primary Science to 1st Year Uni Science


1. What is PICSE?

  • A multifaceted Schools Program
  • Builds Aspirations of students to pursue a tertiary science study path – into Careers in Agri-foods / fibre industries – in regions.
  • A Partnership funded by schools, universities, government, primary industries, peak industry bodies, CRCs and Rural R&D organisations.
  • An Intensive Program of – science investigation awards, industry placements, study camps, experiential learning and mentoring for students.

Primary Industry Centre for Science Education


PICSE Objectives

  • Improve Awareness and Interest amongst school students and science teachers of the career opportunities available in science-based AgriFood Industries;
  • Increase the number of students enrolling in tertiary science courses who are planning a career in AgriFood Industries and related research;
  • Enhance the quality and quantity of highly skilled science professionals available to the AgriFood Industry sector;
  • Promote science professionals to return to rural and regional Australiafollowing completion of their studies.

Industry Camps

Industry Placement

PICSE Integrated Model: Building Relationships

Teachers' PD

Science Awards

Relevance of Science: run by Science Education Officer

Class Visits

Teaching Resources


PICSE Infrastructure

  • 6 National Staff
  • 10 Activity Centres located at universities
  • 14 Science Teachers (SEO)
  • 15 years Experience
  • Quantitative/Qualitative
  • Tested Process
  • Innovation

PICSE is funded by the Federal Government’s Diversity and Structural Adjustment Fund (DEEWR), University of Tasmania (UTAS), University of Western Australia (UWA), University of New England (UNE), University of Southern Queensland (USQ), University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), Flinders University (FU) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Horticulture Australia (HAL), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC), Dairy Australia (DA), Cotton Catchment Communities CRC, Dow AgroSciences, Murray Darling Basin Authority and National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training .


Food Sc


Primary Industry Centre for Science Education



Ag Sc




Ag Sc

Hub + Local Community Nodes:

School-University-Industry Partnerships

Ag Sc

Focus of Activity Centres


Lessons learned from

encouraging students

into Science

(Years 5 to 12)

Provide exciting and relevant science activities (SIAs)

Promote the relevant sciences that underpins Agriculture

Build relationships with Science Teachers (Resources and PDs)

Build relationships with Students (in class, SIAs, camps, IPS)

Building relationships with local industries (IPS)

Relationships with school, university, RDCs and industry partners

Provide an integrated package for schools, year in, year out

Select a passionate team of Science Education Officers as mentors.


Outcomes: PICSE Activities Nationwide

  • Science Investigation Awards (SIA; Years 5 -12)
  • Focused Class Visits (Years 11/12)
  • Teachers’ Professional Development Program
  • Industry Science Camp (Yr 11/12 & Yrs 9/10)
  • Yr 11/12 Industry Placement Scholarship (IPS)
  • IPS Reporting Back Session
  • Input to National Teaching Resource (CD)
  • Independent Monitoring and Evaluation.

87% of Industry Placement Students changed their view on AgriFood Industry

22% not previously interested,

now interested in

AgriFood Industry careers


More stats on the Outcomes:

  • Over 10yrs presented to 44,450 students in 2,272 yr 11/12 science classes – and selected 778 students for camps and placements
  • PDs with 850 secondary science teachers
  • Secured $12 mill over 10-yrs to grow the program
  • ACs have increased from 7 to 10 over the last 2 yrs
  • 154 teachers in 2010 PDs, up from 102 in 2009/10
  • 152 students in Yr 11/12 camps, up from 120 in 2009/10
  • 136 students in IPS, up from 90 in 2009/10.

For Agriculture, PICSE is:

  • Promoting a more positive image
  • Combating community ignorance
  • Demonstrating its relevance
  • Embedding it in core sciences
  • Making teachers our ambassadors
  • Selecting top science students
  • Providing career pathways
  • Helping fill the skills pipeline
  • AND it could be a “Whole of Industry approach”!

For regional communities, PICSE

  • could contribute by:
  • Expanding this successful
  • program into additional sites
  • Building on the regional
  • experience into other regions
  • Focussing on specific industries
  • appropriate to particular regions
  • Creating additional partnerships
  • and relationships.

2. Strategic positioning – the Think Tank:

  • PICSE is well thought of nationally due to its stats and runs on the board
  • Science and primary industry careers are robust and resilient occupations with good prospects
  • Partnering and relationships are strong – this fits with DEEWR views on key future roles for universities
  • DEEWR is encouraging strategic thinking / reviewing of university courses
  • Innovation is crucial in future – are young personnel capable of this and engaged?

2. Strategic positioning – cont’d:

  • The whole food and fibre value chain needs smart, passionate and committed young people (Woolworths)
  • Global mega-trends recognise food and fibre as growth industries (Dow AgroSciences and ACDA)
  • Science teachers are crucial ambassadors to encourage school students to enter tertiary pathways
  • ‘Seeing is believing’ for young people and teachers
  • Federally the Research Workforce Strategy is only one initiative dealing with these issues.

2. Strategic positioning – more:

  • Linkages – and partnerships – between schools (feeder into unis); universities (managing and retaining tertiary students) and employers (end users and beneficiaries)
  • Expansion into remote and regional areas is warranted – what does this mean for regional unis (beneficiaries of these young people)?
  • Lower socio-economic audiences – many of whom have an affinity for food, fibre, environmental issues
  • PICSE in tertiary settings – mentoring, scholarships, etc.

3. WIFM for regional unis?

  • The federal government is focussing on:
  • Strong community engagement - by developing robust community links
  • Creation of partnerships
  • Promoting science and innovation
  • Promoting engagement with young people
  • Developing strong collaborative arrangements.
  • Also focused on regional engagement for universities to link to local schools, local industry, national industry to increase participation of students.

WIFM for regional unis – cont’d

  • PICSE students at the Think Tank commented:
  • ‘Doing something I am passionate about …’
  • ‘Connecting with other passionate people …’
  • ‘I had no idea what careers in science / primary indust …’
  • ‘ I have changed my mind (actor/engineer) ….’
  • ‘I was uncertain about my options, I now have certainty.’
  • ‘I had the wrong idea about those careers until I saw …’
  • ‘I can see myself doing this job, enthusiastically …’
  • ‘Now that I am at university, I just love (bacteria) …’.

WIFM for regional unis – cont’d

  • PICSE graduates, now in the workforce, said:
  • ‘PICSE made the industry real to me. This has been a rewarding career for me. I pass on my enthusiasm to others by mentoring PICSE students …’
  • ‘I wanted to see clear pathways to my career. You have to understand young people’s thinking and motivators. They have to relate to something that is relevant to them. It worked for me – I love working in the seafood industry …’

Why engage with PICSE?

  • Create strong industry and community partnerships
  • Develop stronger community engagement
  • …. And be seen to do so
  • Increase numbers of students – from school to uni
  • Engage with lower socio-economic target audiences
  • Engage with UTAS as a lead organisation for collaborative HEPPP funding – based on a successful case study
  • All based on access to a successful model – with data that validates its success. Why re-invent the wheel?


  • Contact:
  • Gordon Stone
  • Phone 07 4615 2255
primary industry centre for science education picse

Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE)

Talented Young People

into Agriculture


PICSE Partners

Part of the Solution!