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Jobs for the New Economy: Investing in STEM statement
THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP; LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION; MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
May 15, 2015
JOBS FOR THE NEW ECONOMY: INVESTING IN STEM
Technology is changing our economy.
For Australia to win the future, we have to be a high-skill nation.
STEM disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – will be central to the jobs of the future, and people with these skills will be well positioned to succeed in the future.
As our economy restructures and responds to technological change, it is vital all Australians are skilled to be able to participate, to secure jobs today and well into the future.
Three out of every four of the fastest growing occupations will require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Targeted investment across the education system to improve skills, increase participation, drive creativity and innovation, and uplift our competitiveness is vital to empowering our most important resource: the creativity and genius of the Australian people.
Digital proficiency will be a foundation skill, as important as reading and numeracy. It will increasingly be the determinant of employment prospects and opportunity.
A Shorten Labor Government will make this a national priority.
1. Coding in Schools
A Shorten Labor Government will ensure that computer programming and digital technologies - coding - is taught in every primary and secondary school in Australia, by a teacher who has had the opportunity to receive training in coding.
Labor will work with the states and territories, teaching bodies, school systems and the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to examine the best way to lift the status of coding to a core skill that is part of learning from the start of schooling.
But we can’t do this without great teachers.
2. Teach STEM
Labor will do more to support Australia’s great teachers so that they can deliver STEM courses in a way that will inspire and engage young Australians.
A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a two part plan to upskill teachers as an urgent priority, and create a pipeline of future STEM qualified teachers to join the teaching ranks.
Currently, around 20,000 teachers in science, maths and IT classes never studied these subjects at university.
Labor will support 5,000 primary and secondary teachers per year to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines. Coding and programming will be a key focus of this program.
Labor will also provide 25,000 teaching scholarships over 5 years to new and recent graduates of STEM degrees to encourage them to continue their study and become a STEM teacher.
Teach STEM will provide an incentive payment to attract more STEM graduates to become teachers.
Students that have just completed a STEM degree, or graduate within 5 years, will be able to apply for a $15,000 incentive payment. $5,000 will be paid upon commencement of the course of study, with the remaining paid after their first year in the classroom.
3. STEM Future Workforce
Employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations.
A Shorten Labor Government will give the next generation of Australians an incentive to study science and a head start in their working life, free of student debt.
Labor will provide a financial incentive for students to enrol in and complete a STEM undergraduate degree, in recognition of the significant public benefit of growing Australia’s STEM capacity.
Labor will offer 20,000 STEM Award Degrees every year for five years, which upon graduation will see the entire students HECS-HELP debt written off. These students will graduate HECS debt free.
This policy reflects Labor’s policy focus for higher education - structuring assistance to encourage and incentivise completions at university.
The policy will also reflect Labor’s equity objectives, with the selection criteria to target increasing enrolments in underrepresented groups like women.
Labor will consult with the Chief Scientist, and work with universities and state governments to develop criteria, and selection criteria around access to the scheme and the eligible courses and use of the grants.
Economic growth cannot be sustained without inquiring and capable people, a steady pipeline of specialist STEM skills in the workforce, and general science and mathematical literacy in the community.
A Shorten Labor Government will invest in STEM to ensure Australians are equipped for the jobs of the future.