Bold idea for bright students

By Beatrice Thomas

Perth’s Nicole Gazey has used her own experience as a mother to pave a bold path for young creatives and entrepreneurs.

Gazey and her business partner Rebecca Loftus have created Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA), which caters for 15 to 21-year-olds looking for alternatives to traditional education.  

“He (my son) is a bit creative, he has dyslexia and therefore found it difficult to thrive in the traditional education system," Gazey explains.

Having worked in education policy, Gazey knew that her son was not alone.

“Most of these young people underperforming or under-engaged at school are highly creative and innovative and actually have the ‘enterprise skills’ the world of work is looking for … but the education system understandably just can’t cater for that level of diversity,” she adds.

“I went in search for those options and couldn't find them. The only options available were really at that high-fee paying private education space (which is) inaccessible for a lot of families.

“We needed to find a solution to that.”

IDEA founders Nicole Gazey and Rebecca Loftus.

A new career pathway

Loftus, an education researcher and former high school teacher, says IDEA aims to boost career pathways for students based on their interests and expertise.

“If a student comes in and they're really interested in science or pursuing a career in the music industry, we set them up with the work placements and other experiences, and help them to customize a portfolio of skills and credentials to suit that area,” she says.

In addition to the full-time academy, IDEA also offers part-time programs in areas including careers advice and pathway planning.

The academy will partner with business to give them access to a pool of capable graduates to build their workforce.

Connecting with the business community

Gazey first pitched the concept of IDEA to a member of CCIWA’s policy team in 2017, which gave her the confidence to develop the start-up.

“Since that day, we have received nothing but support and advocacy from CCI, and it’s been instrumental in keeping us going,” she adds.

IDEA’s membership with CCIWA has also helped with connections to the business community – a key part of its work.

IDEA’s part-time academy is already up and running, with its full-time academy launching in 2022.


Find out more about CCIWA’s Education Services here.

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