James Riley
April 30, 2019

Govt unveils new engineering push

STEM

Govt unveils new engineering push

Karen Andrews: "We have to start from a very strong foundation in school to meet the demands of the future workforce."

Industry Minister Karen Andrews will this morning unveil new details of a $6.2 million schools-based program to produce a bigger pool of potential engineering students from across the nation.

Funded in the 2019-20 budget, the Engineering is Elementary curriculum was originally developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, and will be delivered in Australia by Questacon, the national Science and Technology Centre.

Ms Andrews, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the Queensland University of Technology, says the program will introduce students to the skills and concepts needed to pursue a career as an engineer.

The Engineering is Elementary program, which has already been successfully piloted in Australia by Questacon, would be rolled out nationally to improve skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, which are "vital to our country’s future," Ms Andrews said.

The program will roll-out over the next three years, delivering workshops and resources for up to 1,000 teachers from at least 500 schools across all states and territories.

"Building our engineering skills is critical as the Morrison Government seeks to build our Defence and cyber workforce to take advantage of our enormous investment in Defence capability and cyber security," Ms Andrews said.

"As an engineer myself I’m well aware of the vital importance of engineering in supporting nearly every aspect of our lives, including all forms of transport, roads, buildings, infrastructure, electrical components and chemical engineering products such as toothpaste and detergent," she said.

"Then there are the high tech products such as computers and iPhones and technology yet to be developed. The potential is limitless and our students have a lot to be excited about.

"We also know that many of the jobs of the future are going to require skills in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. We have to start from a very strong foundation in school to meet the demands of the future workforce."

Ms Andrews said the program would help enable individual schools to build direct links into industry, and to invite engineers into the classroom. The new funding for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) was a part of the broader plan to grow the economy.

She said the Engineering is Elementary program further supports the government’s commitment to gender equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Meanwhile, Labor has committed $600,000 to support a new program aimed at championing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s innovation and business in Canberra.

The funding will help establish the University of Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Entrepreneurs Program, which will see students working alongside entrepreneurs and community leaders to develop skills and start their own businesses.

This program will continue the University of Canberra’s strong record of championing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and aligns with the University’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2020.

The program will be funded as part of Labor’s $174 million commitment to boost equity and participation in higher education. We know that 34 per cent of Indigenous Australians have post-school qualifications compared to 54 per cent of non-Indigenous Australians.

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