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$10 million injected into growing STEM talent but where are the females?

The Australia Government is investing $10 million to get Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) into schools – after recent numbers revealed its demand is growing two times faster than non-stem occupations. The funding is rolling out over the next four years.

With technological advancements eliminating a percentage of current jobs, changes in teaching to arm students with the likely skills for jobs will continue to evolve. Future innovation will require STEM-related knowledge, problem-solving, critical and creative thinking skills, and the ability to work collaboratively, and solve emerging world problems.

But there are worrying statistics that show very few numbers of STEM-qualified women – startup girledworld hope to shape future female leaders.  STEM SISTA, scaling up from South Australia, is a professional development program for girls aiming to demonstrate pathways for young women in STEM related careers.

The new DECD STEM Learning Strategy aims to empower future youth to cope with the increased demand of STEM. It’s a hands-on approach to help learners experiment, use new technologies, test ideas, and create innovative solutions to complex problems.

This includes skills such as coding, designing and building prototypes, agri-science and agricultural engineering, working with local industries, and troubleshooting capabilities.

STEM learning at all year levels

By 2020, the Government aims to:

  1. Implement STEM learning from preschool to year 12, supporting children and young people to build their capability for critical and creative thinking
  2. Develop and build systemic capacity to provide cutting edge STEM teaching and learning
  3. Build dynamic partnerships between business, industry and schools to ensure learning is relevant and contemporary and builds greater career awareness.

The strategy will co-design career development approaches with teachers, school leaders, industry and tertiary institutions to increase student awareness of career pathways in STEM.

DECD will also build on our existing network of STEM focus and advanced manufacturing schools and the Australian Mathematics and Science School to identify our most innovative and effective secondary teachers who will inspire fellow teachers and increase students’ interest in STEM learning.

An annual STEM leaders’ symposium will be designed and held in collaboration with the Preschool Directors Association (PDA), primary and secondary principal associations, the South Australian Area School Leaders Association and the Australian Science and Mathematics School.

Preparing students for the future of AI and automation

Today’s students need to become comfortable with AI, machine learning and robotics. By investing in STEM, youth can learn how to work with new technologies, instead of being replaced by it.

As it stands, the top six STEM industries include:

  1. Professional, scientific & technical services (25%)
  2. Manufacturing (10%)
  3. Public administration & safety (10%)
  4. Education & training (10%)
  5. Health care & social assistance (6%)
  6. Financial & insurance services (5%)

Interestingly, of the current 2.3 million STEM workforce, 68% are VET qualified. This opens up opportunities for greater cross-over between high school and vocational training.

If you would like to more about STEM careers, please contact Jess Perry at jessica@careerblueprint.com.au.


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