STEM education is the learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, using an interdisciplinary approach. STEM education provides a unique way of thinking, including how engineering and design processes and principles are used. STEM education also provides children with the knowledge and understanding required to develop creative and critical thinking skills. These are all important life skills; not only for jobs as we know them today, but also for jobs that may not even exist right now.
In 2014, the Australian government invested $5 million in two STEM related projects, called “primary connections” and “science by doing”. Last year, the Australian Government committed an additional $12 million, to restore focus and increase student uptake in STEM courses. Restoring the focus on STEM subjects is about ensuring Australia’s young adults are equipped with the necessary skills for our future economy, since it is estimated that 75% of jobs in the next ten years will be STEM related.
In December 2015, the Australian Government announced a National Innovation and Science agenda. Almost $65 million was invested in the development of STEM teachers and STEM programs. The goal was to ‘inspire all Australians – from pre-schoolers to the broader community – to engage with STEM’. Starting this interest while children are still in school, will help increase the number of students taking up STEM-related subjects in higher education, and then in their careers. This will ensure that Australia remains internationally competitive in important fields.