As the pace of technological change quickens, Canberra schools and universities face the daunting prospect of preparing students to enter a rapidly evolving workforce.
Two-thirds of the fastest-growing occupations now require Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) skills. Many of the specialist roles in short supply today – like big data analysts – did not exist a decade ago. And research shows people with STEM qualifications are more valuable to their employers, even when their major field of study is not a role pre-requisite.
So it is good news that the ACT Government is taking steps to nurture local STEM talent, with Member for Brindabella Joy Burch last week turning the first sod for the new Centre for Innovation and Learning at Caroline Chisholm School.
The $5.9 million learning centre will deliver STEM programs to improve student achievement and outcomes in STEM education by developing collaboration, creative thinking and complex problem solving skills. It will have areas for activities including:
- 3D printing
- Digital design
- Robotics activities
- Chemical, biological and physical science
- Space discovery and astronomy
Ms Burch said the centre will be used by both Caroline Chisholm students and the broader community, with the potential for collaborations with the Australian National University and the University of Canberra.
“This space will also be available for parents, the general community, undergraduate teachers and for post-graduate students to undertake research projects related to learning and teaching. I can’t wait to see it once it is in full use and producing the innovators of the future,” she said.
The centre is due to open at the start of the 2018 school year. It is just one of many STEM initiatives underway in the ACT, with others including play-based programs that introduce preschoolers to STEM thinking and astronaut visits to public schools.