In July, the fourth annual STEM Education Conference will tackle the issue of how Australia can urgently increase student participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in order to meet the demands of its evolving job market. With the current education system not converting enough students into modern, high-level professions, conference speakers will provide ideas about how we can better equip young people to move into emerging fields like nanotechnology, bioengineering and computer science – areas of superior job growth.
Technological innovations and disruptors are emerging at an unprecedented speed, obsoleting many of the roles we know today and creating a sharp increase in demand for the digitally competent. It is estimated that STEM professions will represent 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025.
The skills shortage falls in the same decade in which Australia is trying to brand itself as a nation at the forefront of science and innovation. How can we compete with the production and commodity based economies of other nations if we do not take urgent action to reverse the decline in STEM skills?
“Something needs to be done. We have to find a way to funnel young adults into STEM disciplines and find pathways into employment” says Rose Hiscock of Science Gallery Melbourne (and former Director of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum). Rose will present at STEM 17 and urges more responsibility at every link in the chain to make sure young adults are enabled to take pathways in STEM.
However, channeling students into STEM subjects represents only the first hurdle in the pursuit of preparing for the fourth industrial revolution. The sheer velocity of technological advances makes “digital competency” notoriously difficult to teach. There is also a seismic gap between the current STEM curriculum and the skills and knowledge required for STEM professions. This gap will continue to grow unless changes are made.
“We need to bring a real-world context into the classroom”, says Machinam’s Founding Director, Felicity Furey, also speaking at STEM 17.
“Children often ask the question, ‘why do we need to learn this’? If they do not know the answer, how can we expect them to pursue, be engaged or excited about STEM?” she asks. Felicity will discuss how teachers can create their own real-world resources.
The 2017 STEM Education Conference takes place in Sydney from 26 to 27 July. It’s designed to help teachers and education leaders respond to the challenge of delivering the world’s next generation of digital innovators. It will outline and discuss how we can transform our curriculum to create industry-ready graduates and explore potential barriers to participation and success in STEM subjects, including dyscalculia, gender stereotypes and our approach to assessment and planning. Over 250 delegates are expected to attend.
Learn more about the the 2017 STEM Education Conference here