Entrepreneurship program has NSW high school scaling solutions for impact

2 min read

Entrepreneurship program has NSW high school scaling solutions for impact

Entrepreneurship program has NSW high school scaling solutions for impact

While the serious impact of COVID-19 on Australian high school students continues – with one in four believing the pandemic hindered their education – one group of NSW teens were excited to be participating in a new Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) program designed to help students and teams develop sought-after skills in creativity, design thinking, and entrepreneurship.   

Discovery is one of SSE’s signature programs for young people, a 1 or 2-day workshop series during which its young participants learn and apply skills to work through real-world problems, collaborating to ideate, innovate, pivot, and scale solutions for impact.  

It’s fun, it’s ambitious, and opens participants up to a world of possibility and a future filled with opportunity. 

“We are time-poor at school,” explained Science and STEM Teacher at Hoxton Park High School in Sydney’s west, Wendy Huynh, highlighting the need for innovative education while acknowledging most schools’ ongoing resource limitations, “so [programs like] this help us a lot.” 

And the program could not have come at a better time for Australian high schoolers. In 2022, 60% of Australian students reported feeling unprepared for their first full in-person school year since 2019. 

Changing workplaces call for better skills building 

Likewise, with nine out of ten future jobs predicted to require vocational skills, practical and vocational learning enables all Australians to explore opportunities, see their potential, and feel empowered to contribute to and thrive in tomorrow’s economy.  

One of the biggest impacts of COVID has been a global workplace revolution. Complete industries have been sidelined while new technology and ways of working have heralded the launch of many others. In 2023, the Australian government introduced its National Skills Agreement, “a 5-year joint agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories to strengthen the vocational education and training (VET) sector”. 

“The workplace has changed forever,” explains SSE’s Education Design Manager, Cherie Karlsson. “Historically undervalued ‘soft skills’ in critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, self-awareness/self-management, and financial literacy are just a few of the many skills young people need as they enter the post-COVID workforce.  

“They’re all the skills our program participants are encouraged to learn and apply; practically and collaboratively.” 

High school students embracing Discovery 

Discovery kicked off for 24 Year 9 STEM students at Hoxton Park High School in Sydney’s South West in November, 2022. 

Students were organised into teams before diving into identifying a problem and working with teammates to ideate solutions for that problem, including developing prototypes and working on business development before presenting their pitches as a team to an expert panel as their final task. 

Not surprsingly, the teams came up with some innovative solutions to serious societal problems, including those which provided access to education for young people in conflict zones, decreased the cost-of-living pressures for single parents, and reduced racism in the workplace among others. 

Following the one-day workshop, SSE facilitated weekly online mentoring sessions through Term 4. 
“The continual loop of receiving feedback on ideas, editing, and developing is a new skill I can keep growing through life,” reflected one young participant. 

SSE Training Facilitator Dr. Jayde Cahir was energised by the Hoxton Park cohort, noting that “[s]tudents have already submitted lots of creative ideas and innovative solutions for sustainable services, apps to support everyday conveniences, and unique products and fashion items that respond to the young adult market.” 

“Their ideas are typical of the innovative design thinking that comes so naturally to teenagers when they are given an opportunity to develop and showcase their own ideas and solutions, which is ultimately what makes Discovery such a unique and wonderful experience.” 

Are you a teacher or school leader interested in bringing Discovery to your school, or would your organisation like to partner with SSE to deliver the program to young people who need it most? Let’s talk. Get in touch with us today

This program is a great opportunity for students.
Wendy Huynh
Teacher at Hoxton Park High School