Western Australian Government driving future jobs, future skills with first ever STEM skills strategy

An announcement made by the Government of Western Australia highlighted the goals and pillars of Western Australia's first ever State STEM skills strategy, to drive WA's future jobs and future skills initiated by the McGowan Government. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Science Minister Dave Kelly also announced that an initial A$3.3 million investment by the McGowan Government to begin the delivery of the strategy over the next four years.

This funding will be used for professional development of more than 1,000 teachers in the lower socioeconomic public schools over the next four years. This will also fund for STEM communication, mentoring programs, as well as digital and technology programs.

Western Australia’s (WA) Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken led the panel that developed the goals and pillars of the strategy. The panel was made up of industry experts, researchers and educators.

The strategy aims to:

(1)     Prepare students with STEM skills for the jobs of the future

(2)     Upskill the current workforce with STEM skills that are required to embrace a technological future

(3)     Increase the participation of under-represented and disadvantaged groups

(4)     Increase STEM culture and the community's recognition of the importance of STEM skills.   

This strategy is complementary with other government commitments with STEM. These commitments include a A$17 million funding for science programs in up to 200 public primary schools, resources to create science labs, and making coding/programming a part of the school curriculum.

Support from the industry will be sought by the State Government in the development and resourcing of future STEM programs.

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

Science Minister Dave Kelly commented, “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.”

He also said, “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,” he added. 

Minister Kelly furthered, "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 A$600 billion from 2015 to 2030 in Australia alone," he explained.

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery commented, “Building our STEM capacity is in the long-term interest of Western Australian students, our current workforce and employers - an investment in STEM is an investment in the jobs of the future.”

She also said, "The professional development program has the potential to transform the STEM culture in 60 schools, develop the teaching practice of 1,200 teachers and impact 25,000 students.”

"Employers are looking for people with skills that STEM subjects help develop - teamwork, problem solving, creativity, independent thinking, critical analysis, initiative and communication - and these skills are transferrable across careers,” she added.

Minister Ellery furthered, "The partnership recently formed between Rio Tinto and South Metro TAFE to develop curriculum for qualifications in automation is an example of how industry can support Western Australian workers to acquire the skills needed for future jobs."

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