STEM professionals encouraged to give back to students
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) and CSIRO have partnered together in a program to increase the number of industry professionals showcasing real-life science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills and careers in Australian schools.
The Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools (SMiS) program links industry professionals and scientists with classroom teachers and their students to generate interest and motivation in STEM through real-world exposure. The Turnbull government last week announced that it is providing $10 million in funding for CSIRO to extend the program.
According to Ai Group and the Office of the Chief Scientist’s STEM Skills Partnerships program, 75% of the fastest growing occupations require STEM knowledge and skills, but the number of students coming out of university is not keeping up with this demand. Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said this relative decline in STEM skills is “holding back our national economy and causing real frustration for employers”.
The key to solving this problem, said CSIRO Education Manager Mary Mulcahy, is to tackle it early on in schooling. “Our evidence shows that bringing real-life, hands-on STEM into classrooms results in students being more engaged in these subjects,” she said.
“Letting students know about the diversity of careers available to them is also important — jobs from accounting, construction, nursing to hairdressing all use STEM skills.
“Industry also tells us that people with STEM backgrounds are more flexible and innovative and are able to take advantage of opportunities and changes in the workplace.”
Cisco, an Ai Group member, is involved in the SMiS program as part of its organisational commitment to tackle Australia’s STEM skills shortage. Cisco Australia Vice President and SMiS mentor Sae Kwon said it was a real privilege to give back to the students who will be tomorrow’s innovators.
“The kids are fascinated that I talk to them from other countries like Singapore over video conference,” said Kwon. “It’s great to be able to talk about the cool jobs available, the great people you get to meet, the many countries you can visit and all the fun you can have working in STEM.”
CSIRO and Ai Group are currently looking for more STEM professionals to get involved in the program and inspire students. To register your interest, visit www.csiro.au/SMiS.
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