WA Government announces $3.3M initial funding for STEM Skills Strategy

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More than $3.3 million in new funding has been allocated to kick-start WA’s STEM skills strategy…

By 2030, it is estimated that workers will spend double the amount of time solving problems and 77 per cent more time using science and mathematics skills.

It has been well documented that Australian students are falling behind their OECD and regional neighbours in STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths) subjects.

Over the weekend, the State Government announced the goals and pillars of Western Australia’s first ever State STEM skills strategy designed to help drive WA’s future jobs and future skills.

The full strategy will be announced later on, but for now you can view the main ‘pillars’ of the strategy on a pdf (‘Future Jobs, Future Skills – Driving STEM Skills in Western Australia‘) on the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation’s (JTSI) website.

Under the commitment, up to 1,200 teachers will receive professional development training, with the initial stages of the strategy to focus on teachers in low socioeconomic public schools, promoting STEM and introducing new initiatives.

The initial $3.3 million investment will begin the delivery of the strategy over the next four years.

A panel, made up of industry experts, researchers and educators, chaired by WA’s Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken, developed the goals and pillars of the strategy. [Disclosure: Startup News’ Charlie Gunningham was a member of the Chief Scientist’s STEM Panel.]

“If we want to see our economy grow and to create the jobs of the future, we need to have clear goals and pillars – and now we do,” said Minister of Innovation Dave Kelly.

“This will be used as a roadmap to help equip all Western Australians, industry and government to adapt to the industries and workplaces of the future.

“The work of the panel specifically recognised that lower socioeconomic communities are the least likely to acquire STEM skills. That is why the strategy has a focus on these areas to ensure no Western Australian is left behind in the growing innovation economy.

“The panel will continue to provide advice on new initiatives to drive STEM skills to support the jobs of the future.

“There are also significant economic gains in ensuring people are equipped with the right skills for the jobs of the future. Economic benefits are predicted to be $600 billion from 2015 to 2030 in Australia alone.”

The strategy aims to:

  • Prepare students with STEM skills for the jobs of the future;
  • Upskill the current workforce with STEM skills that are required to embrace a technological future;
  • Increase the participation of under-represented and disadvantaged groups; and
  • Increase STEM culture and the community’s recognition of the importance of STEM skills.

The strategy will look to complement other government election commitments in STEM, including $17 million for science programs in up to 200 public primary schools including resources to create science labs, and making coding part of the school curriculum.

The State Government will also be seeking support from industry to partner in the development and resourcing of future STEM programs.

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