STEMpreneur initiative helping students prepare for jobs of tomorrow

NBN Co’s STEMpreneur initiative, in partnership with the Australian Business Council Network (ABCN) assisted eight participating schools across Australia to develop a business idea to overcome a challenge in their community.

New research revealing how access to fast broadband and new education techniques is helping to prepare the next generation of Australian leaders for the future workforce has just been released by NBN Co with Alpha Beta.

Bright Futures: Laying the foundations for the workplace of tomorrow, is part of the Connecting Australia series exploring the economic and social impact of access to fast broadband. The report forecasts the future of education and jobs in Australia.

NBN-CairnsNBN Co’s STEMpreneur initiative, undertaken in partnership with the Australian Business Council Network (ABCN), draws on this future of work focus, to deliver a virtual education program to eight participating schools across Australia.

“We know the workforce is changing rapidly and it’s vital for us to be partnering with businesses like NBN Co to help bring practical real-world learning experiences to Australian students” said Allegra Spender, Chief Executive Officer at ABCN

“Connectivity allows us to do that, wherever the school is located. Creating STEM learning opportunities is particularly important in higher needs school communities where we know it can be more challenging for students to pursue these pathways. It’s been especially rewarding to see these students engaging passionately with STEM and entrepreneurship to solve real problems facing their communities.”

This year, there was a strong focus on the environment among participating schools.

The program combines face-to-workshops and virtual mentoring to coach students as they develop a business idea to help overcome a challenge in their community using their STEM and entrepreneurial skills.

NBN-BallaratThis year, there was a strong focus on the environment among participating schools. Their business ideas include a robotic ocean cleaner to keep the Barrier Reef free from rubbish, an air quality app to help local communities impacted by coal operations, and a website which informs tourists about the importance of water consumption and provides information about the dangers posed by Australia’s unique wildlife.

The initiative culminated in students pitching their business ideas to a panel of STEM experts last week. The school that took top honours was Bowen Road Primary School in Hobart (pictured below), with their idea of autonomous drones that use thermal imaging cameras and sensors to detect the location and trajectory of bush fires to assist emergency services.

Tasmania winners“The world of work is set to transform in the next ten years so it is vital Australian students have access to infrastructure such as fast broadband to help them develop STEM and entrepreneurial skills no matter where they live.” said Kathrine Dyer, Chief Network Deployment Officer at NBN Co. who commissioned the report.

I’m keenly aware of the importance of STEM and entrepreneurial skills for students.

Robotics expert and STEMpreneur ambassador Marita Cheng said “As a young Australian leading a tech company, I’m keenly aware of the importance of STEM and entrepreneurial skills for students. With universal fast broadband becoming a reality, these core skill sets will only become more important in the workforce.

“I’ve loved hearing that so many students share my passion for technology and innovation through the virtual mentoring sessions and judging the final pitch submissions. I’m sure there are some budding CEOs, engineers and tech entrepreneurs among the very bright students I’ve worked with.”

The participating schools in the STEMpreneur initiative were:

  • Para Hills Primary School, Adelaide, SA
  • Islington Public School, Newcastle, NSW
  • Bowen Road Primary, Hobart, TAS
  • Larapinta Primary School, Alice Springs, NT
  • Parramatta State School, Cairns, QLD
  • Victoria Park State School, Mackay, QLD
  • Canadian Lead Primary School, Ballarat, VIC
  • Parkwood Primary School, Perth, WA

To download a copy of Bright Futures: Laying the foundations for the workplace of tomorrow, please visit www.connectingaustralia.com.au

Key findings of the report Bright Futures: Laying the foundations for the workplace of tomorrow, include:

  • Increasing need for digital literacy: High growth jobs – those that are becoming more prevalent, such as management and professional jobs – demand digital literacy skills almost 7 times more frequently than occupations that are becoming less prevalent.1
  • Upskilling for the future: It is predicted that by 2030, three in four Australians will spend more time using STEM and entrepreneurial skills at work. Time spent on problem solving is expected to double to 12 hours per week, while use of STEM skills will almost double from five to nine hours per week.1
  • Enabling entrepreneurship: The nbn™ access network is helping to power a rise in entrepreneurship, and helping to contribute an estimated additional 49,000 – 93,000 entrepreneurs by 2021, with 40% of these reported to be women.
  • Adapting students: Primary school students in nbn-connected areas spend 75 minutes more per week completing homework online than in those non nbn-connected areas.

1 Some of the findings on digital literacy and time spent on STEM and entrepreneurial skills build on and reference research conducted for the Foundation for Young Australians in The New Basics (2015) and The New Work Smarts (2017).