The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are deeply intertwined in our everyday lives, covering everything from the mechanics and reasons behind daily functioning to the complexities of modern technologies. Through STEM education individuals are given the opportunity to access a wealth of knowledge and information which contributes towards their understanding of the world they live in. However, importantly, STEM education also creates critical thinkers through instilling a sense of intrigue in individuals. As such, STEM education allows young minds to challenge their world, understand new concepts, make well-informed decisions and pursue new interests – effectively enabling the next generation of innovators.
The Importance of STEM Education
Australia has been a major contributor in innovation and entrepreneurship on a global scale, with continued excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, recent studies have highlighted worrying gaps in Australia’s STEM skills pipeline and a declining national interest in STEM in general. So what does this really mean?
If Australia is to maintain its strong economy and competitive position, it must make science, technology, engineering and mathematics a priority. STEM education creates the pipeline of future innovations, which is the key to continued growth and reducing Australia’s economic reliance on natural resources.
STEM skills are more important than ever, with many jobs today requiring at least basic levels STEM knowledge. The career and further study options of students with this level of understanding are far greater than students with little or no STEM knowledge. An ABS study found that STEM-related occupations grew at one-and-a-half times the rate of other occupations between 2006 and 2011. With industries like advanced manufacturing, life sciences, clean energy and health care expanding at a rapid pace, STEM education is a critical element in ensuring students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.
The Australian Government is investing approximately 9 billion dollars into science, research and innovation, in an attempt to lift our national performance in STEM areas.