Training program opens the door to career opportunities

by Brett Henebery07 Jul 2017
In June, the University of Technology Sydney teamed up with leading car manufacturer Honda to roll out a new hands-on course that will boost youth skills and their employment prospects.

L&D Professional recently caught up with Louise McWhinnie from the UTS and Scott McGregor, general manager of customer and communications at Honda Australia, to find out more about how this course works, and the opportunities it offers.

Honda Australia announced its “industry and educational engagement” with the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation last week, saying it would “open the doors” to networking and potentially career opportunities in the automotive industry.

McWhinnie told L&D Professional that educational collaboration with a multi-national such as Honda enables students to gain industry insights, hands-on experience of professional expectations and company culture as well as networking opportunities.

“In-depth interaction with industry through such a co-created course component enables them to experience in-depth engagement with industry’s future thinkers as an integrated part of the curriculum,” she explained.

McWhinnie added that with a clear focus on future-world challenges, students are able to not only observe and receive feedback, but to actually work with leading Honda staff to co-create trans-disciplinary, innovative and creative outcomes for their and our future.

In recent years, as numerous reports have revealed a growing need for soft skills such as communication and creativity, organisations have been putting a greater focus on training their employees in these areas.

“We all know that employers are requesting more soft skills in graduates – such as communication and teamwork, for example, and that most universities these days are responding to that demand in the courses they offer,” McWhinnie said.

“However, what is particularly distinctive about this engagement between Honda and the course is Honda’s recognition of and engagement with the ground-breaking transdisciplinary nature of the course.”

McWhinnie said she identifies this as the area in which UTS are helping to accelerate the change in learning that is necessary for not only the future of employment but its educational future “beyond simply the tradition of defined disciplines”.

“As issues become more complex yet at the same time connected, it is the ability to transcend discipline specific responses that we see Honda as our industry partner wishing to engage with,” she said.

“Such transdisciplinary practices are characterised by learning or research that expands beyond disciplinary practices, creating not only new synergies, but novel approaches and innovative outcomes to complex problems.:

Scott McGregor, general manager of customer and communications at Honda Australia, said he expects the initiative to offer students an opportunity to “tackle a real life brief” in a practical environment with help from experts within the automotive industry.

“Students will be encouraged to think laterally in solving complex industry issues relative to roads, mobility and infrastructure. In doing this, students will develop problem solving skills in invention, complexity, innovation and future scenario-building,” he told L&D Professional.

McGregor said that every year, Honda runs the HTEC student program, which involves apprentices from Honda Motor in Japan coming to Australia to gain work experience in another division of the company.

“This year we have 4 apprentices working with the Honda Australia division. We are also piloting a graduate program this year, having taken 5 students from RMIT to give them real-world work experience through a paid 12-month program,” he said.


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