In order to meet the needs of the country’s future engineering and technology skills requirements, it is vital that there is adequate grounding for young people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, and that this strategy is part of a robust education supply chain for Australian students.
Currently less than half the number of engineers that Australia needs graduate from our universities each year. The current shortfall is partly met through skilled migrant intake. More significantly, essential infrastructure works are being cancelled or deferred because there aren’t enough engineers.
Next time you’re stuck at your local bottleneck of traffic congestion, slow, delayed and cancelled public transport connections or pondering limited airport options or dealing with slow broadband and sub-standard health, education and regional infrastructure, remember that it’s engineers and technologists who are critical to fixing these bottlenecks.
Without enough new graduates these bottlenecks will never be adequately addressed. The Warren Centre is working to address these issues on several fronts:
- Defining the Problem
- Teachers for the Future Project
- Collaborations with Stakeholders
- Inspirational Events and Teachers’ Resources
- Download Papers & Policy Documents
Defining the Problem
The Warren Centre recognises that the level of exposure and the experience children have at school in relation to STEM subjects is crucial in influencing their future career choices. Importantly we are recognising through our work, and the work of others, that these decisions are made long before children have any exposure to career advice.
We have long been involved in initiatives to enhance Australia’s education and skill development opportunities. We worked with Engineers Australia on two recent articles stimulating debate within the profession on the topic – the April 2014 edition’s cover story, “Where is Australia’s national STEM strategy?“, and the May 2014 edition’s article “More action on STEM needed” by TWC’s John Phillips.
We created a commentary on ACARA’s draft technology curriculum and submission to ACARA’s public consultation (PDF, 311kB). By focussing on a number of points of influence in the education supply chain, we have established a multi-faceted approach to stimulate dialogue with industry and government to enable better solutions for the future.
Teachers for the Future Project
The Teachers for the Future Project is an examination of the motivations of tomorrow’s school teachers (education students currently training to become teachers). This project is shedding light on the role they play in school children’s subject and ultimate career choices, at a stage when they can still be influenced. Understanding the teacher relationship to the skills equation provides significant and new insights to enhance the education supply chain.
The project has incorporated an initial survey of over 800 students studying at 14 NSW Higher Education Institutions by Professor Ian Gibson from Macquarie University through the NSW Council of Deans of Education (NSWCDE, formerly the Teachers Education Council). The full report is available for download. This work forms a base reference body of work for follow-on academic papers and input by TWC to relevant studies and submissions.
Collaborations with Stakeholders
In addition to projects such as Teachers for the Future, The Warren Centre also works with a number of like-minded organisations, including Engineers Australia and ATSE among many others, to:
- ensure high quality research and investigation into motivations and barriers to participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects by school students, especially to fill a significant void in understanding the skills shortage equation;
- promote a common and shared understanding of those underlying drivers and motivations;
- coordinate the good intentions of the many active parties keen to contribute to a solution, so as to ensure delivery of effective outcomes;
- educate, influence and support key stakeholders at all levels: policy makers, the education system itself, teachers, students, the community, and especially industry and business.
Industry and business are key stakeholders in the education system: they are, after all, the key ‘customer’ of the education system’s ‘products’. Through our industry engagement efforts The Warren Centre is actively working to bring these key parties more fully into the efforts to address these very serious issues.
Inspirational Events & Resources
The Warren Centre aims to inspire all with quality examples of Australian engineering innovation and excellence.